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After having read about the Mahindra E2O on 8 Dec 2012, Times of India, I believe this is the correct time to post this article. While I came up with this idea a couple of years ago (2009 if I remember correctly), during a ‘Presentation Skills’ training, where each team was asked to create a presentation around an idea and my idea was to make a presentation for an electric car, with the concept elaborated below.

While electric cars are all the rage in the world today, one of the biggest problems they are facing is how to charge the car while out on the road.

While discussing the presentation, I put forward an idea to create a marketing campaign for an mid-segment sedan that runs on electricity. The idea that I shared during that program differs from the way one of the biggest names in the world of electric cars – Tesla Motors from USA – is approaching. As reported, Tesla is experimenting recharging stations that would charge the car using electricity transmitted through the air – near field electric charging.

My take is different. One of the prime bones of contention for the automobile driver is the distance that can be traveled on a single tank-full or single charge (in electric cars parlance/terminology). It is said that Mahindra E2O will travel 100Km (60 miles) on a single charge. It is also said that the car can be charged using a 15 ampere plug. While this might make it very simple for people to charge their cars at home, what will happen when people are out of the house?

The biggest question for drivers will be ‘Will I be able charge my car if I run out of juice while I am away from home’?

My solution is this. In addition to establishing a car sales dealership, Mahindra can establish franchisees where charged batteries are available. When this happens, if a car owner realizes that his battery is running low, he can drive up to a franchisee shop and have the bettery replaced by a fully charged one.

This model is quite similar to putting fuel into the a petrol or diesel car. For an electric car, we end up replacing the battery.

Another model that can be considered in parallel to the ‘battery replacement’ one is creating places where people can drive-in their cars and charge their batteries. This model would be like the traditional model with the difference being that charging would continue being through cables, rather than ‘over the air’ like in Tesla’s case. I feel that the ‘battery change’ model will catch on if the time taken for the change is less than the one for charging the battery at a shop/franchisee and also if the company can maintain the quality of the batteries and the charge they carry.

If you compare this to terminology being commonly used in the computing world (SaaS – Software AS A Service, PaaS – Platform As A Service and the like), we are in effect creating a new service line – Energy As A Service (EaaS) or CaaS (Electric Charge as a Service).

While this model is going to be difficult to put in place, it would be very novel and will solve one of the biggest problems that electric car owners face – the distance they can travel from their home.