Exter: We provide electric scooter batteries as a service, giving you not just a battery warranty, but a GUARANTEE

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Electric vehicles are on the rise and we can confidently say that they are the future. The two-wheeler EV startup, Exter in an earlier interview mentioned how every liter of petrol has around 87% of carbon in it. On the other hand, electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. They are efficient, don’t have a lot of recurring costs, and are not harmful to mother nature.

With Exter, you can explore the world of electric two-wheelers, and here’s what the co-founders, Mr. Abhilash DV and Mr. Preetham Hegde shared more about the whole EV ecosystem and their unique offerings with Team Sociobits:

Team Sociobits: Could we begin our conversation with a little about Exter?

Mr. Abhilash DV: Our company is based in Bangalore and strives to make electric two-wheelers or mobility accessible to everybody. The whole idea of doing this is to reduce pollution. We have our own swapping services. In a nutshell, we are making electric two-wheelers available across Bangalore.

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Mr. Preetham Hegde: Our steps will accelerate EV adoption and in turn decrease pollution.

Team Sociobits: Since our last interview, what’s new with Exter?

Founders: Quite a lot of things! We have been awarded a grant from the Karnataka government and with this, we have also been incubated with Atal Incubation Center at Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini. Here, we are a part of the fast-track incubation and we are being mentored by great minds from the industry and experienced entrepreneurs who are helping us reshape the way we see things. We are getting great support and we have also started reaching out to customers. So, our early-stage sales are close to 400+ early bird signups. We have around 11 products for the customers to choose from listed on our site: evclub.exter.in and they can buy a scooter for themselves.

Team Sociobits: Could you elaborate more on what Exter is offering to its customers?

Founders: With Exter, we are providing battery-as-a-service. These will be available across multiple scooters and we also have scooters that range from Rs. 60,000 – 1 Lakh or even more. We have multiple manufacturers onboarded with us and the performance of the scooters available is good. They are rugged, and we also have certain scooters that are specifically for the B2B sector like for delivery purposes.

We are a matchmaker for electric scooters, customers, and batteries. We are building a relationship with them and clubbing everybody so that we build a conscious community. As a company, we are building an environment-conscious community to reduce pollution.

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We are a matchmaker for electric scooters, customers, and batteries. We are building a relationship with them and clubbing everybody so that we build a conscious community. As a company, we are building an environment-conscious community to reduce pollution. Everything boils down to this and that is the agenda that we are trying to follow: Reduce pollution and start healing the earth.

As of today, we have more than five different brands listed on our website and we are working with more. So, we have 5+ brands and 11+ options for the customers to choose from. With this, many other OEMs have also come forward and we will be listing around 25 OEMs on our platform soon. But, instead of listing all the manufacturers on our platform, for us, it is more important to choose the right one because we evaluate our offerings when a customer visits our portal and want to give the best value to a customer who is choosing an electric vehicle from our portal.

When a customer enquires about our offerings, we first understand their pattern and habits of driving and then suggest the right option for them. For example, people who want to switch to electric two-wheelers, generally want a vehicle with the highest range. But specifically for the two-wheeler sector, we counterquestion the customers about their general usage. We make them understand that don’t buy a scooter that they want to drive for 150kms only for a month or simply one day. You should choose the scooter according to your minimum requirements, and if someday you want to take your EV for 150kms, get in touch with us, and we will give you another which will give you a particular range. You can use it for a couple of days and get back to your old scheme.

Here, as a customer, you get the cost advantage with the freedom to drive an electric scooter without causing pollution. We are a matrimonial site for EV two-wheelers and customers! And we make sure that the relationship stays for a long time and doesn’t end in three years or so.

Here, as a customer, you get the cost advantage with the freedom to drive an electric scooter without causing pollution. We are a matrimonial site for EV two-wheelers and customers! And we make sure that the relationship stays for a long time and doesn’t end in three years or so.

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Generally, batteries, including laptop batteries, work fine during the warranty period. And after the warranty period ends around one year later, you may have seen the performance of the battery. It tends to go bad. This has nothing to do with the manufacturer and it is a general chemistry problem as there is internal resistance that builds up inside the battery over some time. To tackle this, we take back the old battery from a subscriber, and we give them a company-maintained battery, that is how we ensure that the performance is maintained.

Team Sociobits: Very recently, we saw headlines that electric scooters were catching on fire. What was the reason for this?

Founders: There are multiple reasons for it but I would like to highlight the main and the most common reason. Primarily, this happens because people are using inferior-quality cells. Some middlemen ship in second-life quality cells in the Indian market. So, cells that are degraded and not fit for EV use, infiltrate the market. Then there is general heat production in these kinds of cells and when this happens, it gets caught on fire. Right before this, a short circuit will happen in the battery which is also because the quality of cells is bad. The usage of inferior-quality cells is one prime reason and the design also has to be done very mindfully. The BMS (battery management system) has to be taken care of as well.

Apart from these reasons, sometimes there is also user negligence. Where in case a wire has been cut and the user may not notice it, again, if a positive and negative wire is cut, a short circuit takes place. Ultimately leading to a fire.

Battery maintenance is a huge challenge and that’s what Exter is offloading from the customers. When you join Exter, we make sure that you have a fresh battery with you and we take care of the hassle. We check with the customers periodically to make sure they have a good battery. With a battery subscription service, the chances of similar incidents are very less. Our team gets notified if there is any spike in temperature because of IoT-enabled features in the battery and we attend to it immediately.

The usage of inferior-quality cells is one prime reason and the design also has to be done very mindfully. The BMS (battery management system) has to be taken care of as well.

For example, if you buy a two-wheeler with a battery, they generally give you a three-year warranty. After 3-4 years, the battery life reduces so when you charge the scooter, the same charge that gave you a 100kms range per charge, will give you around 70kms range and keep on reducing. As a customer, you will be forced to buy a new battery by that time because you need that performance. The battery is an extremely important component of an EV two-wheeler. The battery that you discard also becomes a hazard to nature but we take care of it end-to-end.

Team Sociobits: As an EV two-wheeler user, how do I get rid of the cycle of buying a battery every 3 – 4 years?

Founders: This is exactly where people like us come into the picture. When you subscribe with Exter, every year while renewing your annual fee, we will take back your old battery and give you a fresh maintained battery. This process continues for six years. If someone wants to extend this subscription, they can do it for 8 – 10 years too.

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On top of that, you also get the freedom of swapping EV batteries across Bangalore. Presently, we are active in Bangalore but we are looking to cover all the tier-1 cities. We have also come across customers who told us they wished to see someone like Exter a couple of years back as the cost of buying a new bike is close to buying a new battery for which they sold their bikes!

Another advantage with us is that if you like some other EV two-wheeler after 3 – 4 years, you can always purchase the new one with the particular subscription and when you sell your old scooter, the depreciation will not be much. You, as a customer, get a well-maintained, high-performing battery FOREVER with Exter’s subscription.

Team Sociobits: All in all, what are customers missing out on by not choosing Exter?

Founders: First things first, customers don’t need to buy a new battery by putting in 40% of the vehicle’s cost. Second, they can leave the battery maintenance hassle to us. Instead of having a battery that depreciates every year, you can have one that gives you the same performance every year. The battery gives you a similar performance on day one as well as on the last day of the sixth year!

With these benefits, customers also get cost benefits. For example, if you buy an EV from any OEM for around Rs. 1,24,000, after buying an OEM from Exter with the battery subscription, you still get a reduction of around Rs. 6,000. Using the same vehicle for six years will save around Rs. 40-50,000 assuming you need to buy a battery every 3 – 4 years.

First things first, customers don’t need to buy a new battery by putting in 40% of the vehicle’s cost. Second, they can leave the battery maintenance hassle to us. Instead of having a battery that depreciates every year, you can have one that gives you the same performance every year.

As of now our services target the people who are buying fresh scooters but we are chalking out a plan where we can support the existing EV two-wheeler user. So we can provide them with attractive offers and keep them riding their EV scooters. We want to prevent them from switching over to petrol vehicles again.

Team Sociobits: Do you think India is ready for two-wheeler electric vehicles?

Founder: India is ramping up in the two-wheeler sector. If you look at the compounding annual growth, it has been more than 100% for the last three years. Last year, the annual sale of high-speed vehicles was around Rs. 2.5 Lakhs and this year, by July-August, it has already reached three. This acceleration is already there in the market. And In India, the four-wheeler EV acceleration will take some time but for two-wheelers, people will be more confident to choose them with services like ours. We want to give that confidence to people so they choose electric mobility as a prime source.

With the new government policies and benefits, such as the battery swapping policy, coming into the picture, a new business model is emerging, and Exter is placed on it. The Finance Minister announced this in the previous budget and Niti Aayog has already started working accordingly. We are extremely happy to be a part of it. India will be a role model in the battery-swapping policy. Since we are based in Bangalore, we want to make Bangalore the EV capital of India but in the long run, we want to make India the global EV capital.

Out of the two important components of an electric vehicle: battery and motor, if the battery fails, the whole equation fails. Exter is making customers aware that the battery is an integral part. This will help EV enthusiasts and customers make an informed decision before buying an EV two-wheeler.

For Exter, it’s the right time, the right industry, and the right location. Now customers need to make the right choice. Let us make a conscious choice to reduce pollution.

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