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Battery Swapping: India’s opportunity for global dominance

Battery Swapping: India’s opportunity for global dominance
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By: Mohammad Hanief

Decarbonisation of the transport sector is critical to net zero ambitions worldwide. As the 4th largest automotive market in the world, India has the opportunity to lead this global transition from traditional ICE power trains to a more efficient and decarbonised Electric Vehicle (EV) technology. In line with India’s commitments, a shift to green vehicles is well on track as reflected in growth of EV sales. H1 of calendar year 2022 has seen EV sales YoY growth of 333%.

Battery swapping is an alternative that involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones. Battery swapping de-links the vehicle and fuel (in this case, the battery) and thereby leads to a reduction in the upfront cost of the vehicles.

Battery swapping is popularly used for smaller vehicles, such as two- and three-wheelers, which have smaller batteries that are easier to swap compared to other automotive segments where the same can be implemented mechanically.

Battery swapping offers three key advantages relative to charging—time-saving, space-efficient, and cost-effective—provided each swappable battery is actively used. Further, Battery swapping provides a level playing field to innovative and sustainable business models, such as ‘Battery as a Service’.

Penetration of 2 Wheelers EV in key markets like Delhi is already upwards of 10% in the year 2021-2022, up from 1.6% in 2019-2020. Electric 3 Wheelers are consistently selling more than their conventional power train counterparts on a pan India basis.

The first National Electric Mobility mission was launched in 2012. Efforts of government to promote the manufacturing & adoption got a push with Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, among one of its kind globally, with an outlay of INR 10,000 Cr ($1.35 Bn). The scheme has supported extensively in the growth of the industry by providing direct subsidy to the customer and ensuring minimum quality standards of the vehicles being sold.

In this regard, NITI Aayog held an inter-ministerial discussion to formulate a robust and comprehensive battery swapping policy framework in February 2022. NITI also held an extensive pre-draft stakeholder discussion with a wide spectrum of stakeholders representing battery swapping operators, battery manufacturers, vehicle OEMs, financial institutions, CSOs, think tanks and other experts.

After due deliberations and taking cognizance of all the inputs provided by relevant stakeholders, NITI Aayog has prepared the draft Battery Swapping Policy.

India, recently surpassed Germany to become the 4th largest automotive market globally. As one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, it presents itself a unique opportunity to become a world leader in battery swapping. Government’s recent push towards battery swapping as a complement to fixed charging through the draft battery swapping policy indicates the same.

Capitalizing on its global position as the 2nd largest two-wheeler manufacturer and the largest when it comes to three wheelers, high density of e-commerce companies and last mile delivery services, price sensitive nature of consumers, central and state government’s push towards EV adoption acts a catalyst towards building a sound EV infra ecosystem in the country.

Public and private stakeholders across the value chain are enthusiastic about the opportunities and are exploring a variety of business models for battery swapping. The operational ecosystem for battery swapping typically involves local DISCOMs, land agencies, Vehicle OEMs, battery manufacturer, fleet operators, etc. in addition to the battery swapping operator.

The battery swapping ecosystem is nascent and there are immense opportunities for introducing solutions to tackle the existing challenges. An attempt in this regard has been made through NITI Aayog’s Draft Battery Swapping Policy which proposes on reducing tax rate differential of batteries & EVSE, backs fiscal incentives, prioritizes metro cities for swapping network and also advocates for interoperability. Setting up a battery swapping business in India requires interaction with different central government and state government bodies.

Battery swapping stations are one of the best options for EV charging stations in India and even a solution to the lack of EV charging infrastructure in India. The battery swapping stations take less time to charge your electric vehicle 100%. Just Swap the Drain Lithium-Ion Battery with a new One and be ready for longer drives.

The phenomenal take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Indian automobile sector has taken everyone by surprise. In the last couple of years, the country has made significant progress on the adoption of EVs and the best thing is the democratic nature of this adoption across vehicle segments, product categories, and body styles. From Ebikes, E-rickshaws, and Electric cars to Electric LCVs, HCVs, and buses, the demand for EVs has seen a significant uptick among both commercial and private buyers. From just 1.3% of total sales in 2020-21, the category of EVs is likely to grow at 90% CAGR to reach $150Bn by the end of 2030. While many factors contributed to this unprecedented growth of EVs, we list specific measures that are proving particularly relevant in powering the growth story of EVs in the Indian market.

The rising environmental awareness is pushing Indians to consider EVs over conventional vehicles. The world today is facing an abruptly changing environment and the reality of climate change is fast dawning on us. By offering the cleanest mode of transportation, EVs can reduce greenhouse emissions, conserve the environment, and alleviate the dangers of floods, heat waves, and hardships arising from other calamities associated with climate change. The reality of climate change is increasingly recognized by Indian buyers and acts as a strong determinant in pushing the adoption of EVs in the country. No wonder, Research, and Markets predict that the adoption of EVs in India will grow at 44.5% CAGR between 2020 and 2025 on the back of rising customer awareness about climate change and ecological concerns.

Evolving Technologies of today are a far cry from the electric machines of the past as technology today has made significant progress on every important parameter of consideration. From bigger batteries to efficient motors and high-tech safety to extended range, modern EVs boast futuristic designs, spacious interiors, and powerful performance that is second to none.

The ultra-low running and maintenance costs further augment their appeal, thereby helping EVs witness a staggering increase in overall sales in India. Sample this: JMK Research states that 4,55,773 units of EVs were sold in the Indian market in FY2022 alone with the cumulative EV sales in the country breaking through the 1 million mark to reach 10,90,641 units by the end of FY2022. The milestone is indeed impressive and will help the country to further push the adoption of electric mobility among a wider sector of buyers across the spectrum.

(The author is a columnist and can be mailed at [email protected])

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