SUN Mobility rides on Microsoft Azure to help build future EVs

Microsoft on Tuesday said that electric vehicles solutions firm SUN Mobility is using its Azure Cloud as well as other solutions in developing a Cloud-connected swappable batteries to put the country on the road to the future.

The batteries as well as the swap stations are connected to the Cloud using Microsoft Azure and numerous built-in solutions like Azure IoT Hub, Azure Data Factory, CosmosDB, Azure Databricks, among others, that transmit battery performance telemetrics back to SUN Mobility.

The customers also have the option of using an app, which connects with their EV’s battery and gives them real-time information of their battery’s performance and the nearest swap station in case the battery is running low.

“We have stations, batteries, and customers that are connected to us. There are over 150 data points coming into our system from each battery,” said Chetan Maini, founder of Bengaluru-based startup SUN Mobility.

With this data, SUN Mobility understands battery utilisation, most frequented routes, and peak hours.

“Using AI and machine learning algorithms, it can predict the potential demand. It can not only optimise its existing network of battery swapping stations, but also plan the location and feasibility of future stations,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

So far, SUN Mobility has inked over 10 original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partnerships, that will enable automobile makers to use its battery technology.

These include Piaggio Commercial, the Italian automobile manufacturer’s Indian arm that makes autorickshaws and Ashok Leyland, India’s second largest manufacturer of large commercial vehicles like buses and trucks.

SUN Mobility currently has a network of 50 battery swapping stations spread across 14 cities, with plans to ramp it up to 150 stations in 20 cities by March 2021.

It has already partnered with Indian Oil Company, India’s largest oil and gas company, to deploy battery swap modules at their gas stations.

“We always knew that the future would be on data, cloud, and analytics, and we had to rethink of how we would look at a platform and we felt that Microsoft was the kind of company we wanted to work with,” said Maini who founded the Reva Electric Car Company way back in 1996.

“It was talking of sustainability, looking at data at scale, talking of making an impact, and was creating platforms. All of that resonated with our long-term vision,” he added.

In his current role, Maini has taken a drastically different approach to powering EVs by applying the idea of shared economy to the battery ecosystem.

He’s come up with a pay-as-you-go battery as a service system that is run on a digital platform built on the Microsoft Cloud.

“That means you don’t have to wait for hours before your EV hits full charge”.

Ultimately, the distance your EV can travel is no longer limited by the amount of charge in one battery.

“And because you don’t buy the battery upfront, the cost of an EV can come down nearly 50 per cent,” Maini said, adding that if people are willing to rent homes and cars, “I figured they’d be open to renting the battery too”.

His company has also partnered with over a dozen companies that own fleets, including SmartE, India’s largest EV fleet operator for last-mile connectivity in urban areas.

“SUN Mobility’s battery as a service model can have a big impact on public transportation vehicles, where every minute the vehicle is not on the road has revenue implications. And users are already seeing the gains,” the blog post by Microsoft said.