Will the adoption path for EV innovations similar to those for innovations in other industries? - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Net Zero by Narsi is a series of brief posts by Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi), on decarbonization and climate solutions.
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This is a part of the EV Innovation Intelligence series

Innovations are taking place in many points along the electric vehicle value chain.

Even some of the value chain components thought to be commodities are undergoing transformation and innovation.

Many innovations being attempted require significant resources – both financial and otherwise, and a good many of these innovations may have to evolve through different stages of adoption.

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Capital intensive innovation efforts requiring long lead times to market, and especially if undertaken by startups or businesses with limited resources, could face significant scaling up efforts, and many of them stare at the notorious “chasm of death”.

How are innovations in general panning out in the EV industry worldwide, and how especially are the risky among these evolving on their way to commercialization and adoption?

Innovators/early movers etc.

For some EV products whose growth is mainly market driven – electric cars, electric scooters etc. – the adoption can be expected to follow the classical route. But for some products, for instance electric buses, the adoption could be driven by mandates and concerns on air pollution and climate change abatement, and as a result, these genres of electric vehicles could dramatically leap beyond estimates made with free market assumptions.

Disruptive innovations targetting underserved segments

While some of the earliest consumer segments for prominent products are indeed the wealthy and the pioneers, some others are indeed at the bottom of the pyramid.

This can be confusing, as electric vehicles are considered expensive products compared to their conventional compatriots. Well the reason is, there are other factors at play. If one takes for instance India’s manual cycle rickshaw (a three wheeler) market, many of the rickshaw pullers wish to migrate to something better as manual rickshaw pulling is a menial, tiresome job. With many of the state governments also keen to get many people use these rickshaws for last mile transport or micro-mobility, they are really pushing electric rickshaws – a low-end, low tech electric vehicle, but it works pretty well for all concerned in this ecosystem.

COVID could redefine innovation adoption paths

The other reason why EV innovations could be fast-forwarded could be because of the extra thrust on climate change and sustainability post COVID across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has ruptured the manufacturing and sales activities across all sectors, including EV. The pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down, and this has resulted in the industry’s all-time low performance right now. Post the lockdown period, digitized manufacturing and servicing will help in ensuring the safety and efficacy of the sector. Public sensitization around climate change and alarming pollution levels have helped the sector grow because now people are looking for sustainable mobility options.  All these factors, including certain public behavioral changes, will help the EV sector to grow in the post-lockdown period. 

Air pollution

On a note related to climate change, many countries are pushing mandates and regulations to curb air pollution. While these may not be as aggressive as what China did, such measures by developing countries across the world will make EV innovations and EV adoption in these countries happen faster than otherwise. 

All vehicles produce substantial life cycle emissions, and calculating them is complex. However, EVs typically produce fewer life cycle emissions than conventional vehicles because most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel. The exact amount of these emissions depends on your electricity mix, which varies by geographic location.

Corporate interest & investments

There is a massive interest among many industrial stakeholders, many of whom are keen to invest in some form in the electric vehicle sector. Some of these stakeholders bring more than just money – they bring valuable experience and talent from their fields, and this mix of assets could result in a completely different set of EV innovations. 

Even in an economy affected by COVID, several Indian EV startups have managed to raise funding, which speaks to the potential that investors see in this segment.


Chasm of death

Finally, while some electric vehicle innovations will fall through into the chasm of death, there is a good likelihood that far fewer well-qualified startups will fall into this chasm in the EV sector than they would in other industries in which innovations require significant capital, mainly owing to the number of different stakeholders ready to help them with capital.

Related resources:

Six electric vehicle charging innovations that could be crucial to the green transport revolution

Advances in consumer electric vehicle adoption 

This is a part of the EV Innovation Intelligence series

Posts in the series

Tesla’s Valuation | EV’s in different countries | Purpose built EVs | Mainstream Fuel Cells | IT in Emobility | EVs versus ICEs | Advent of China in Emobility | Charging vs Swapping | Micromobility & EVs | Electric Aviation | Li-ion alternatives | Million Mile Battery | Battery Startups versus Giants | Sales & Financing Models | Ultrafast Charging a Norm | Heavy Electric Vehicles | Material Sciences in Emobility | Lithium Scarcity | Solar Power in EV Ecosystem | EV Manufacturing Paradigm | Innovations in Motors | EV Startups – a speciality | Oil Companies’ Strategies | EV Adoption Paths | Covid-19 affect on the EV Industry |

Know more about EV Next’s e-mobility perspectives from here.

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See also: Climate Startup Intelligence from CLIMAFIX

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About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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