During the Auto Expo Components Show 2020, we got a chance to interact with Akshay Kashyap, Founder and MD, Greenfuel Energy Solutions, about his journey from establishing himself as a CNG component manufacturing giant to an emerging player in the Indian EV industry.
Please give us a brief background on Greenfuel Energy? What is the company’s key business profile?
Greenfuel Energy Solutions was founded in the year 2006 to primarily service the automotive CNG markets in India. We noticed a gap in the industry where there was a dire need for international-standard products at a value price. This is where we found our niche. Since then, we have grown to capture 37% market share and are the largest provider of such components. Our company primarily provides high-pressure fuelling systems for CNG vehicles to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in India and also filling systems to gas station companies. We also inaugurated our Lithium-ion battery plant in October 2018 and have been servicing the market since last year.
Can you guide us through some of the thoughts that led to the inception of Greenfuel Energy Solutions?
I have always been passionate about clean mobility. In 2006, in India, there were primarily buses that were made by OEMs and they had problems with their fuel systems. I had worked with a company in the USA for 3 years, where I got great exposure to vehicles using CNG systems across the world and was also involved in preparing the safety-standards of these components. When I came back to India, I saw an opportunity here where the industry was at a nascent stage and felt we can provide products that are well-priced, extremely reliable and with a zero-defect rate.
Having been in the CNG components business for more than a decade now, any significant achievements or milestones that you’d like to share?
My first and fondest memory is of getting the order of the Tata Marco Polo Low Floor buses from the Delhi Government. Here, our systems have now completed over 1.5 billion kilometres in the field without a single failure of the product. The second milestone has to be of Greenfuel being selected as a key supplier to Maruti Suzuki in the year 2010, where we have now supplied over 8,00,000 products without a single case of product failure or warranty return. These are distinctions that are unique to our company and cannot be claimed by anyone in India.
It’s often quite challenging to shift focus from a successful business model and venture into a new industry. What prompted you to focus on EVs?
I actually started looking into the EV space in the year 2011, well before there was any noise in the Indian market. The reason was believing in sustainable and clean mobility - it was always my belief that EVs too will play a strong role in the transition towards clean mobility. It seems my prediction was right and that’s why we formed a separate division to focus on EVs within Greenfuel in 2016.
Any specific areas of the EV industry that you wish to focus on? And has Greenfuel already made progress on it?
Greenfuel decided sometime back that it would focus on the battery pack business. The reason was that battery performance is central to the performance of EVs. It is 50% of the cost of the vehicle and almost 100% of the brand value of the vehicle. It took us two years of R&D to come up with the perfect product for the Indian environment and applied for four patents on the product. We believe we are the only company in India to do so. Our battery packs are already in use in the Indian market and have covered more than 1 million miles without any failure.
What are your views on the role that EVs play with respect to both the Passenger Vehicle (PV) & Commercial Vehicle (CV) industries?
I think passenger vehicles in India will take a longer time to be available in all EV formats. Having said that, hybrid vehicles in the PV segment will play a bigger role. In the commercial vehicle industry, I believe the three-wheeler cargo loaders will be the earliest adopters of EVs and have a very strong presence in India.
What is your vision of the EV industry in India? Do you think it’s headed towards a sustainable future?
I wish to see more urban mobility products that are not necessarily passenger cars but more products catered towards single users or a family of two in the EV space. Further, I hope to see all last-mile connectivity applications, in both delivery and passenger movement, electrified. Also, since the sharing economy will only grow here, EVs can play a very strong role and hence, we should see large scale adoption of the same. I think this is quite sustainable as well as the need of the hour for urban India.
How does Greenfuel wish to set itself apart from the rest of the players in the EV industry? Any specific breakthroughs you wish to achieve?
Greenfuel is very clear on its agenda - it wants to set a benchmark in the industry when it comes to battery pack designs for various applications in the EV space. There are many companies that are manufacturing battery packs but none of them have their own technology nor have they spent time on engineering the products for Indian conditions. It is here we feel we can create a clear difference, where any customer using our products will have the safest, most reliable and long-lasting battery pack in the Industry.
Where do you wish to see Greenfuel Energy in the EV space by the next decade?
I wish to see Greenfuel as the go-to brand when it comes to battery packs for EVs. A customer community that recommends our products to their peers will be the ultimate goal of our company and in this way, we will have achieved our mission of securing the largest market share in this industry.