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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,
I hope this thread is right for this forum.
I'm based out of India & currently run manufacturing business for HT Electrical Transformers & Control Panels. Indian Govt is going big on EV with plans to have only EV sales by 2030. Almost 2,500 EV Charging stations are up for bidding this year & the no. will only go up from here. Govt plans to have at least one EV charging station every 3kms on National Highways. Though EV penetration is almost nil at the moment, it's expected to increase rapidly.
My basic understanding of how an EV Charging Station is made from this video. We've the CnC cutting & welding setup in our plant to make the outer shells & parts. Stands can be made. Plugs, wires & Breakers etc need to be procured from the OEMs. Only piece in the puzzle left is the PCB. I've a few queries:
1) Is there any open source available on the software front, or does every manufacturer have their own proprietary software & PCB design?
2) Are there any companies which are looking to expand geographies & want to start manufacture & set up in India who are open to a Joint Venture?
3) How stable is the technology, in the terms like is it expected to drastically change in the coming few years such that current manufacturing standards will be irrelevant down the line in a few years?
Any other point that I'm missing which is critical to starting this business?
I'm open to all suggestions, help, criticisms.
 

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Hello all,
I hope this thread is right for this forum.
I'm based out of India & currently run manufacturing business for HT Electrical Transformers & Control Panels. Indian Govt is going big on EV with plans to have only EV sales by 2030. Almost 2,500 EV Charging stations are up for bidding this year & the no. will only go up from here. Govt plans to have at least one EV charging station every 3kms on National Highways. Though EV penetration is almost nil at the moment, it's expected to increase rapidly.
My basic understanding of how an EV Charging Station is made from this video. We've the CnC cutting & welding setup in our plant to make the outer shells & parts. Stands can be made. Plugs, wires & Breakers etc need to be procured from the OEMs. Only piece in the puzzle left is the PCB. I've a few queries:
1) Is there any open source available on the software front, or does every manufacturer have their own proprietary software & PCB design?
2) Are there any companies which are looking to expand geographies & want to start manufacture & set up in India who are open to a Joint Venture?
3) How stable is the technology, in the terms like is it expected to drastically change in the coming few years such that current manufacturing standards will be irrelevant down the line in a few years?
Any other point that I'm missing which is critical to starting this business?
I'm open to all suggestions, help, criticisms.
Here are my two cents:

  • you want to start a business, not make charging stations; this I think is a huge difference, because you have to see your activities differently;
  • relying on government for your work can be problematic as policy can change overnight and you can be out of work overnight;
  • largest charging station manufacturers are vertically integrated (they outsource standardized components -PCBs-, but focus on associated services -maintenance, monitoring-, software, installation etc.); examples are ABB, Tritium, Efacec etc.
  • I mention largest manufacturers because if a government asks for bids, these large manufacturers have the financial power and project management knowledge to install a large number of high power charging stations in a short time frame (project management, land preparation, grid connectivity, software, reporting, costing); probably think about going into a consortium with these large manufacturers for the Indian market.
  • your government likely wants 50kW+ DC charging stations, not 22kW AC, so the complexity is high; the higher the power to be delivered, the more complex the system (delivering in excess of 100kW currently requires liquid cooled cables, which is an expensive endeavour), so I highly suggest to first check what the government requirements are.

Relating to your questions
1) should be standardised; I'd look for a Chinese supplier for the PCB and would focus in-house on software, integration and testing; you add value through services, as PCBs at this point are fairly standard and can easily be reverse-engineered; it's not rocket science, as high power transformers have been around since ages and you can find schematics online, freely;
2) out of my knowledge;
3) technology is fairly stable, the charging standards are pretty much here to stay for quite a few years; otherwise the world will have not 4, but 25 main charging standards in as many years, thus creating problems for EV owners and car manufacturers. Technology, at this point, should be fairly stable, with minor improvements every decade or so and needs to be backwards compatible. Some technologies have reached their limits already yet are here to stay (Type-2 standard), but others are still evolving (Combined Charging System) albeit at a slowing pace.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here are my two cents:

  • you want to start a business, not make charging stations; this I think is a huge difference, because you have to see your activities differently;
  • relying on government for your work can be problematic as policy can change overnight and you can be out of work overnight;
  • largest charging station manufacturers are vertically integrated (they outsource standardized components -PCBs-, but focus on associated services -maintenance, monitoring-, software, installation etc.); examples are ABB, Tritium, Efacec etc.
  • I mention largest manufacturers because if a government asks for bids, these large manufacturers have the financial power and project management knowledge to install a large number of high power charging stations in a short time frame (project management, land preparation, grid connectivity, software, reporting, costing); probably think about going into a consortium with these large manufacturers for the Indian market.
  • your government likely wants 50kW+ DC charging stations, not 22kW AC, so the complexity is high; the higher the power to be delivered, the more complex the system (delivering in excess of 100kW currently requires liquid cooled cables, which is an expensive endeavour), so I highly suggest to first check what the government requirements are.
Relating to your questions
1) should be standardised; I'd look for a Chinese supplier for the PCB and would focus in-house on software, integration and testing; you add value through services, as PCBs at this point are fairly standard and can easily be reverse-engineered; it's not rocket science, as high power transformers have been around since ages and you can find schematics online, freely;
2) out of my knowledge;
3) technology is fairly stable, the charging standards are pretty much here to stay for quite a few years; otherwise the world will have not 4, but 25 main charging standards in as many years, thus creating problems for EV owners and car manufacturers. Technology, at this point, should be fairly stable, with minor improvements every decade or so and needs to be backwards compatible. Some technologies have reached their limits already yet are here to stay (Type-2 standard), but others are still evolving (Combined Charging System) albeit at a slowing pace.
Thanks for your detailed reply.
I'm starting a business, but it's like adding a new branch in my company. We already manufacture Transformers & Control Panels. EV Charging stations are my clients for these products. The client is there already, I just need to add a product to sell along with my current set of products.
Yes I understand vertical integration is required & I think I'll need to do that as well in future, as it's essential part of this business.
Indian Govt plans to have both 22 KV AC & 50KW+ DC chargers at the charging stations as Indian make EV cars use GB/T AC charging. Many Indian startups have started making 50 KW+ DC chargers as well. So I'm hoping that technology though more complicated, is achievable.
I understand the risk of Govt. changing its policy, but generally speaking future is EV, only the pace of adoption can vary depending upon Govt.'s intention. And Indian Govt. is pretty serious about EV.

It's been only a few weeks & I'm trying to learn about the industry, market & technology. Covid-19 lockdown has given me extra time to go through this. I'll update you guys, once & if my EV charger is ready.
 

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Background info: i'm currently preparing a business project on a similar topic, but I come from the side of the company that would want to purchase charging units (although in my head they should be developed in-house) and without government involvement.

I'd focus on 50kW+ DC; 22kW AC is so easy to build that you'll probably be working with very low profit margins.

Many startups enter many domains, and many, or, better, the majority of them fail, so that should not be a discouragement.

I'd say that if you want to enter the business full-on, without being part of a consortium, you may need from the start with:
  • RFID reading units (although some folks here will dispute that, but that's the last resort to start a charging unit)
  • 3G connectivity and maybe also potential for wired connectivity for the unit to connect to a central database for future payments, remote start (say via app)
  • software for self-maintenance (the unit should self-diagnose and self-repair/restart when needed, or call "home" when human attention is required)
  • customer support (via phone, email etc.)
  • software for remote maintenance, remote start by support staff
  • modular design (purely as example, if 3G will no longer be supported by mobile phone operators, replacing the 3G connectivity module with a 5G one should not require the replacement/redesign of the entire charging station)

If you join a consortium, it is likely that one of the partners will give you a list of requirements; most physical components are standardised. Each partner of a consortium will have its own tasks: land preparation, grid connectivity, unit manufacturing, software development, project management etc.

It is likely that the units will temporarily provide free electricity (Government incentive), but once that grace period expires there are other issues to tackle, provided you don't go the consortium-based approach:
  • payment gateways (so customers can pay for their electricity usage)
  • app development (remote start of charging stations, payment etc.)
  • issue RFID cards, customer management (CRM) software
  • associated services (say, if you have a broadband wired internet connection with the unit, provide wi-fi?)
  • I'm not sure about the Indian energy market, but in Europe we have energy markets, where companies buy and sell energy and that means, literally, trading electricity - which adds huge complications, because then you need brokers and deal with energy cost volatility.

I sure hope you succeed in a way that is comfortable with you! The world does need to do a lot more in this arena and effort and success should definitely be rewarded :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Background info: i'm currently preparing a business project on a similar topic, but I come from the side of the company that would want to purchase charging units (although in my head they should be developed in-house) and without government involvement.

I'd focus on 50kW+ DC; 22kW AC is so easy to build that you'll probably be working with very low profit margins.

Many startups enter many domains, and many, or, better, the majority of them fail, so that should not be a discouragement.

I'd say that if you want to enter the business full-on, without being part of a consortium, you may need from the start with:
  • RFID reading units (although some folks here will dispute that, but that's the last resort to start a charging unit)
  • 3G connectivity and maybe also potential for wired connectivity for the unit to connect to a central database for future payments, remote start (say via app)
  • software for self-maintenance (the unit should self-diagnose and self-repair/restart when needed, or call "home" when human attention is required)
  • customer support (via phone, email etc.)
  • software for remote maintenance, remote start by support staff
  • modular design (purely as example, if 3G will no longer be supported by mobile phone operators, replacing the 3G connectivity module with a 5G one should not require the replacement/redesign of the entire charging station)
If you join a consortium, it is likely that one of the partners will give you a list of requirements; most physical components are standardised. Each partner of a consortium will have its own tasks: land preparation, grid connectivity, unit manufacturing, software development, project management etc.

It is likely that the units will temporarily provide free electricity (Government incentive), but once that grace period expires there are other issues to tackle, provided you don't go the consortium-based approach:
  • payment gateways (so customers can pay for their electricity usage)
  • app development (remote start of charging stations, payment etc.)
  • issue RFID cards, customer management (CRM) software
  • associated services (say, if you have a broadband wired internet connection with the unit, provide wi-fi?)
  • I'm not sure about the Indian energy market, but in Europe we have energy markets, where companies buy and sell energy and that means, literally, trading electricity - which adds huge complications, because then you need brokers and deal with energy cost volatility.
I sure hope you succeed in a way that is comfortable with you! The world does need to do a lot more in this arena and effort and success should definitely be rewarded :)
Thanks for your input. I'll definitely incorporate these suggestions into my working.
 
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