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Ola-Founder Bhavish Aggarwal Hails 'Bharat Cell' As India's Gamechanger

Ola-founder Bhavish Aggarwal announced that the company has developed an advanced lithium cell battery named “Bharat cell.” Currently in the advanced stages of trials, this battery has the potential to revolutionize the Indian electric mobility ecosystem once it is fully launched. “This is the 5G of lithium cells, if I can say, it in a […]

Bhavish Aggarwal (File Photo)
Bhavish Aggarwal (File Photo)

Ola-founder Bhavish Aggarwal announced that the company has developed an advanced lithium cell battery named “Bharat cell.” Currently in the advanced stages of trials, this battery has the potential to revolutionize the Indian electric mobility ecosystem once it is fully launched.

“This is the 5G of lithium cells, if I can say, it in a very simple way. This is the cutting-edge technology that we have made in India. Globally, only a few companies have this technology capability,” Bhavish Aggarwal told ANI in a podcast session.

Ola’s founder emphasized that the company developed this technology independently, without any partnerships. The Bharat Cell has reportedly been certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards, a necessary step before commencing commercial production at Ola’s Gigafactory.

Currently, India relies heavily on imported lithium cell batteries and does not produce any domestically, despite batteries accounting for a significant portion of the manufacturing cost of electric vehicles. Aggarwal stated that Ola Electric’s mission is to establish India as a global hub for electric vehicles.

“…to make India use EVs, we’ll have to build the products India wants, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, other products, which is more India-centric. And by extension, Global South will use those products. But not limit ourselves to the product. In the end, what will define success in Ola Electric is whether, and the whole EV game is, whether we can build a lithium technology in India. So we’ve backward integrated into lithium technology,” Aggarwal said, as he showcased the Bharat Cell during the podcast to the viewers.

Currently, the 2170 battery leads the market, but it is anticipated that the 4680 will soon take its place due to its superior energy capacity, fast charging capabilities, and lower manufacturing and retail costs. The “Bharat Cell” is expected to be utilized in vehicles, home energy storage, and grid energy storage.

“This (Bharat Cell) is five times more energy than this. And since one unit has five times the energy, the cost is lower. This has better fast charging capability. Charging speed is important in EVs,” Aggarwal asserted, holding one such battery on his hands.

“It has less cobalt, so the cost is lower. Energy density is a very important paradigm in cells. Its energy density is 250 Watt hour per kg. This has 275 Watt hour per kg. So that means more energy in the same weight. Cost comes down, performance goes up,” he further explained the advantages.

The Bharat Cell will be manufactured at Ola’s 1,500-2,000 acre EV hub in Tamil Nadu. When asked about the key component of the Bharat Cell battery, the founder explained that it is the cathode-anode technology.

“So, in this, we make the cathode anode ourselves. But not the material which goes into making the cathode anode. The material comes from outside. Some from Japan, some from Korea, some from China, some from Europe.”

“(The material that is imported) is called a cathode active material, anode active material, which itself is a combination of like nickel, cobalt, manganese or anode is graphite. So electrolyte will have different salts. Now India has a very good pharma ecosystem, a pharmaceutical ecosystem, which will be a very good enabler for things like electrolytes. So India’s traditional chemical industry, that will actually benefit from cell manufacturing in India. So we are looking to work with the Indian ecosystem to localize the supply chain also one by one,” Aggarwal outlined.

China currently leads in manufacturing this crucial material, but Aggarwal believes that India will be able to localize production within the next four to five years.

“We’ve made the anode-cathode, but the anode-cathode material still comes from outside. That also is the midstream where China leads today. So we will have a three, four, five-year journey to localize it step by step,” the Ola founder added.

In January 2011, he co-founded Ola Cabs with Ankit Bhati in Bengaluru. Aggarwal was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2018. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2008.

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Bharat CellBhavish AggarwalIndia's GamechangerOla-FounderTDGThe Daily Guardian