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From propelling rockets/satellites to propelling E-LCVs

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By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Chennai, July 30 After propelling India’s rockets and satellites up above the world’s so high, three former employees of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are now propelling electric vehicles — light and heavy commercial vehicles on the Indian roads.

In addition to that, they also run a logistics company with their electric light commercial vehicles (LCV).

Actually, it is not a climb down for Nakul Kukar, Paras Kaushal and Supratim Naskar, but a climb up — from being employees to entrepreneurs/employers — with their company CellProp Pvt Ltd.

Incidentally Kukar and Kaushal belong to the first batch of graduates from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.

“We have developed out electric vehicle technology and have a small assembly unit in Bengaluru. We buy pre-owned LCV shells (chassis and cabin) and fit them with our battery pack, power train, suspension and other components,” Kukar, CEO and Co-Founder told IANS.

Queried about the ISRO learnings that is being implemented in the vehicle manufacturing he said: “At ISRO the experience was in heavy engineering. Here it is simpler engineering problem. We bring in the rocket reliability in our LCVs. We had also worked in building electric aircrafts for a private player.”

Recently CellProp inaugurated its pilot production plant in Bengaluru for the manufacturing, assembly, and testing of lithium-ion battery packs.

The maximum output capacity of this pilot plant is 500kW-hr per month. These battery packs will be installed in the eLCVs that they are manufacturing.

This launch comes after CellProp raised $2 million in June 2021 from a clutch of private equity investors, including Endiya Partners, GrowX Ventures, Huddle Accelerator and Micelio. Last September, the company had also raised $1 million in a pre-series A round of fundraising.

At a time when the majority of players are focusing on making electric passenger carriers, Kukar and his team are into rolling out electric powered LCVs and HCVs.

Kukar said if vehicular pollution has to be reduced then the focus should be on the commercial vehicles.

CellProp has rolled out 10 battery powered LCVs which are owned by a sister company that is into logistics.

“We are owning the vehicle and operating logistics service as a proof of concept. The first 200/300 vehicles will be owned by us. We will run and operate the vehicles for our customers, create credibility, visibility among the truck operators,” Kukar said.

A similar model is also being planned by the commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland Limited’s electric vehicle subsidiary Switch Mobility Limited.

As a proof of concept, Switch Mobility can also own and operate some E-vehicles so that the market gains confidence and go for them, Andy Palmer, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Switch Mobility said.

According to Kukar, presently 10 electric LCVs of CellProp are on the roads ferrying goods for e-commerce companies and others in Bengaluru.

This year, the company plans to roll out 50/60 electric LCVs.

Queried about offering the technology to bigger vehicle makers Kukar said: “We do get enquiries from OEMs (original equipment makers). We don’t want to be a component supplier.”

Be that as it may, Kukar said the formal launch of CellProp’s electric LCV Oryx will be done next year.

According to him, the range and payload (a term generally used in the space sector) or the carrying capacity can be customised. Presently the vehicle can carry 1 to 1.5 ton.

In addition to providing the vehicle, CellProp hopes earn from other value-added services

With electric LCVs on the road, the next focus will be on making HCVs with a gross vehicle weight of 20 ton and a carrying capacity of 10 ton with a travel range of 200/300 km per battery charge.

Kukar said presently the company’s chargers are in Bengaluru suburb and in the coming months it will be open for other electric vehicles.

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Call me “Dada”, not “Sir”, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to employees

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Agartala: In what appears to be a step to boost the morale of the government employees, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Sunday asked the government employees to call him “Dada” instead of “Sir”. “Call me Dada, not sir. It enhances the warmth of the relationship”, Deb told a gathering of government employees.

Deb exhorted the government employees of the state especially ASHA and Anganwadi workers of the state asking them not to dishearten as the state government was eager to improve their pay structure.

“I salute the ASHA and Anganwadi workers of my state. The level of dedication that my sisters have shown during the pandemic period deserved applause. I know, they want to hear good news from me and I am assuring you all that this government will not disappoint anyone”, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb told a gathering of government employees at Badharghat sports school field organized by Vivekananda Vicha Manch (VVM).

VVM has emerged as a big platform of government employees, of late, and Sunday’s public rally was its first big gathering to thank the Chief Minister for the series of steps his government took for the welfare of the employees.

“I know what challenges you people are facing. Nothing is hidden in front of me. I am assuring you all everything will be taken care of in the due course of time”, he added.  Lauding the efforts of government employees Deb said, without them no government office can function.

“Due to the efforts of government employees, people can access the benefits of the state sponsored welfare schemes. But, for a prolonged period the employees did not get their right to do something freely. They were trapped in the clutches of unions. In the previous regime, Left sponsored unions used to enjoy supreme power which had reduced the whole work culture of the state to tatters. In 2018, you people showed courage and voted BJP to power”, said Deb.

“Despite fund constraints, the state government is positively working on the issues of DA and other factors pertaining to the interest of the government employees. Our government has already addressed a number of issues related to financial benefits. The ad-hoc promotion, increment for Group D, Group C employees, regularization of SSA teachers, seventh pay scale, UGC scale for professors, special benefit for LTC are to name a few. All these indicate what we want to do and we shall do what we promise”, the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister also asked the officials not to call him “sir” suggesting them to refer to him as “Dada” as it makes the relationship stronger and cherished. The Chief Minister also distributed clothes among children of Badharghat sports school during the programme. State BJP President Manik Saha, Minister Ram Prasad Paul, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, MLA Mimi Majumder, state BJP Vice President and president of Vivekananda Vichar Manch Rajib Bhattacharjee also spoke on the occasion.

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