Additional charging stations, tax breaks, and financial incentives have been provided by the government to encourage the use of electric vehicles. The government stated its intention to implement a national battery swapping scheme for electric vehicles in the budget for 2022.
The world’s largest producer of motorcycles and scooters, Hero MotoCorp, has partnered with Bharat Pertroleum Corp (BPCL) to establish charging infrastructure for two-wheeled electric vehicles across the country. The firms stated in a statement that they will first install charging infrastructure at existing petrol stations and then “may widen the relationship to achieve more synergies within the EV ecosystem and related business verticals.”
Charging stations will be installed in nine cities in the first phase, beginning with Delhi and Bengaluru. A Hero MotoCorp mobile app will manage the charging experience for users. BPCL intends to install electric vehicle charging stations at 7,000 of its gas stations. In the next 3-4 months, public policy think tank Niti Aayog aims to implement a ‘EV battery swapping policy,’ which will allow electric vehicle customers to opt out of owning the car’s battery, lowering the upfront cost and speeding up EV adoption.
“In the near future, I am convinced that electric vehicles would be cheaper than ICE engine vehicles,” Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant stated. According to Kant, the proposed policy will introduce disruptive business models such as battery as a service (BaaS), leasing, and others so that electric two-wheeler and three-wheeler customers do not have to own the battery, which accounts for about half of the total vehicle cost, lowering the upfront vehicle cost significantly below that of ICE counterparts.
According to those familiar with the situation, the regulation will allow EV owners to replace batteries at swap stations in minutes and charge them at home. “Initially targeting shared mobility and delivery vehicles, this policy will take care of the upfront cost and the ‘range anxiety’ (fear that the battery charge will run out before reaching the destination or a charging point),” said Chetan Maini, co-founder and chairman of Sun Mobility, a company that develops and operates energy infrastructure for electric mobility. The battery swapping legislation must be adopted within the next 2-3 months in order to expand the EV ecosystem and encourage the adoption of electric vehicles in the country, according to Maini.
“The client should have options, and both fixed and swappable solutions should coexist,” he stated. The initial focus, according to Aayog’s Kant, will be on light electric vehicles, with easy plug-and-play batteries from the vehicles to the battery swapping stations.
“We have a proven test bed, thanks to firms like Sun Mobility (and) Battery Smart, among others, who have demonstrated the practicality of battery switching for electric two and three-wheelers,” Kant said. “For practically all segments, this growing technology of battery swapping will operate as an alternative to decoupling the cost of the battery from the vehicle.”
Vehicle OEMs, battery OEMs, financiers, think tanks, multimodal agencies, and independent experts and consultants attended the first pre-draft stakeholder meeting on the proposed policy earlier this month.
After the Fame-2 and state incentives to bring down EV prices, as well as the performance-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and component makers, the focus is now shifting to the ecosystem for faster EV deployment, according to Sulajja Firodia Motwani, CEO of electric two- and three-wheeler maker Kinetic Green Energy & Power Solutions. Even once the Fame-2 incentives expire, the upfront cost of an electric vehicle to the user should be minimal, according to Motwani.
While battery swapping is still in its infancy around the world, it is gaining traction, particularly in commercial and fleet operations, and India is poised to lead the way with its new regulation. The regulation aims to level the playing field for all battery service providers by opening up new investment opportunities in novel business models like BaaS.
Experts say that battery standardisation is critical, and that EV makers will have to build vehicles in such a way that swappable batteries may be used. With a clear regulatory path, battery makers, OEMs, charge-point operators, and, most crucially, consumers would have more trust, they stated. According to experts, battery swapping will reduce recharging time to roughly two minutes, which is less than the time it takes to fill up an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle’s gasoline tank. The battery’s life will be extended if it is charged under the supervision of the manufacturer or service provider, according to Kant.