Currently, charging an electric vehicle with a fixed battery takes 6-8 hours on a home charger or a regular charging unit and 50-60 minutes with a fast charger. The other issue is the lack of enough charging stations.
In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought to address concerns over range and charging among prospective electric vehicle buyers. Sitharaman said a battery swapping policy and inter-operability standards will be formulated soon. “The private sector will be encouraged to develop sustainable and innovative business models for ‘Battery or Energy as a service”, said the finance minister.
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The policy would further encourage electric vehicles which allow a customer to replace battery at a swapping station rather than wait at a charging station. Currently, charging an electric vehicle with a fixed battery, takes 6-8 hours for a home charger or a regular charging unit and 50-60 minutes with a fast charger. Then, there is also a shortage of charging stations, India currently has close to 12000 charging points, with approximately 3000 sanctioned under the FAME scheme. Prospective EV buyers often worry about how much distance an electric vehicle can cover on a single charge and also lack of visibility of charging stations as compared to fuel stations across the country.
The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles said that the budget announcements would motivate businesses engaged in delivery and car aggregation businesses to incorporate EVs in their fleet. "It will create new avenues for companies to venture into the business of battery swapping. Additionally, creating special clean zones will further accelerate the adoption of EV’s and spread awareness amongst the citizens”, said Sohinder Gill, Director General of Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.
The Niti Ayog is in the advanced stages of formulating a policy document on battery swapping and standards for battery and connector dimensions which would enable seamless swapping of batteries across vehicles. The policy change could make it easier for companies to offer batteries on subscription, home delivery of batteries and mobile charging solutions.
The policy announcements in the budget could drive the growth of battery swapping start-ups like Sun Mobility and drive plans of larger OEM’s like Hero MotoCorp which are looking to establish a battery swapping network in the country. “Battery swapping technology addresses key challenges around upfront cost, range anxiety and long charging time enabling faster adoption of EVs. As the policy unfolds, it would be great to see the government addressing key points around how customers can access subsidies, range per charge criteria and GST for swapping services in line with EVs”, said Chetain Maini, Chairman and Co-Founder of Sun Mobility.
The Centre for Energy Finance at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water has said that following the policy, vehicle manufacturers would need to work collectively and launch models with interoperable batteries across their products. "Limited charging infrastructure has been a key challenge to scale up electric mobility. The announcement on battery swapping and interoperability in the budget could lead to increased user confidence. Startups and established players could explore the possibility of battery/energy as a service business model to scale up their effort of setting up battery swapping or charging infrastructure", said Rishabh Jain, Programme Lead, CEEW Centre for Energy Finance.
The budget envisages data centres and energy storage systems including dense charging infrastructure and grid-scale battery systems in its infrastructure push.
The Centre has also slashed duties on certain raw materials including pig iron, ferro alloys, ferrous products, copper waste, copper scrap and aluminium scrap. This will to some extent ease the pressure of high raw material costs which has burdened the industry.
(Edited by : Santosh Nair, Priyanka Deshpande)
First Published: IST