Indian startup Exponent eyes funding to grow rapid charging business

By Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Exponent Energy, an Indian rapid charging startup, is in talks with new and existing investors to raise money to expand its energy services business to three-wheeled passenger vehicles and buses, its chief executive told Reuters in an interview.

The maker of electric vehicle batteries that can be fully charged in 15 minutes using its rapid charger, expects to close the round by end of 2023, its Chief Executive Arun Vinayak said.

He declined to give details of the amount but said it would be bigger than the $13 million Exponent raised last year from investors including venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners.

India wants to electrify its road transport including buses, commercial vehicles, cars and scooters in an effort to reduce pollution and cut fuel imports. Meanwhile, clean delivery fleets help e-commerce and consumer goods companies meet their own emission targets.

This is giving a boost to Indian startups, such as Exponent, which currently makes electric vehicle batteries and provides a network of fast chargers for cargo company Altigreen, with its batteries now fitted in over 200 three-wheeled cargo vehicles.

Exponent has an order book for another 400 cargo vehicles and 30 buses, Vinayak said.

By the end of 2025 it expects to power a total of 25,000 vehicles and become profitable with revenues of around 6 billion rupees ($72 million), he added.

Exponent’s 15-minute charging means vehicles can be fitted with a smaller battery – the most expensive component – making the EVs cheaper and more accessible, Vinayak said. It also makes the charging business more viable because of faster turnaround times. Altigreen’s three-wheelers have a range of 70 to 95 km on a single battery charge, he said.

“Because the battery is almost 30% smaller, the vehicle price comes down significantly. That’s the one big advantage,” he said.

Exponent uses water-based technology to cool the battery while charging which prevents overheating.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)