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India’s EV success relies on robust charging infrastructure

June 26, 2023 6:55 pm

India’s EV success relies on robust charging infrastructure

Creating a realistic business plan for developing charging infrastructure, maintaining technical safety, and addressing concerns about raw material supply and logistics are just a few of the obstacles cited.

India’s electric vehicle (EV) market’s success depends on strong charging infrastructure, prompting the government to launch an initiative to expand and reinforce the public charging network. Overcoming obstacles is crucial for the effective development of infrastructure. India provides compelling reasons for adopting EVs, driven by economic and environmental factors, which have led the government to implement policies and incentives. However, challenges like cost, charging infrastructure, limited choices, and misconceptions exist. This article underscores the rationales for transitioning to EVs in India, addresses the challenges, and emphasises the importance of stakeholder collaboration to drive widespread adoption.

The country has witnessed a significant surge in EV adoption between FY20 and FY22, with EV sales increasing by 155% yearly to reach 429,217 units in FY22. However, it is essential to assess the readiness of our charging infrastructure to match this sales pattern.

The success of India’s electric vehicle (EV) market relies heavily on strong and reliable charging infrastructure. Recognising this importance, the Indian government has initiated a plan to enhance and reinforce the public EV charging network extensively. A substantial increase in EV adoption is necessary to make charging infrastructure development financially viable. Industry leaders further propose that DISCOMs (Distribution Companies) should be obligated to establish charging infrastructure to instil confidence in EV users regarding refuelling. Safety concerns surrounding the deployment of EV charging stations in public spaces have also been raised.

Stefan Louis, CEO of Nexcharge, highlights the pivotal role of robust charging infrastructure in fostering the growth and sustainability of the EV market in India. With an extensive network of charging stations, the adoption of EVs is expanded. Recognising this, the Indian government is actively working towards creating a conducive environment for EV growth, primarily focusing on developing a comprehensive charging infrastructure network.

Niranjan Nayak, the Managing Director of Delta Electronics India, emphasises the firm’s dedication to swiftly augmenting the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure network. To accomplish this objective, we are undertaking multiple strategic measures. Our foremost approach involves forging alliances with government entities, utility companies, and other relevant stakeholders to foster partnerships and collectively invest in expanding charging infrastructure. These collaborations empower us to harness resources, expertise, and funding, expediting the nationwide implementation of charging stations. Additionally, we prioritise the development of scalable and forward-looking charging solutions.

Awadhesh Kumar Jha, Executive Director at Fortum Charge & Drive India, emphasises that the limited availability of charging infrastructure has contributed to a range of anxiety among consumers. While early adopters of EVs may have access to home charging, achieving widespread adoption necessitates the establishment of a robust public charging network. Companies like Fortum Charge & Drive India are trying to construct easily accessible charging stations nationwide, alleviating consumer concerns.

Challenges to EV Adoption in India

One of the main challenges is establishing a viable business model for charging infrastructure development. Higher rates of EV adoption are necessary to attract private investments and make charging infrastructure financially sustainable. To instil confidence in EV adopters, it becomes crucial to mandate distribution companies (discoms) to develop charging infrastructure, ensuring reliable refuelling options for electric vehicle owners.

Another challenge is ensuring technical safety at EV charging stations and strategically placing them in public areas. Establishing regulations and standards is essential to guarantee the safety of users and the general public, creating a secure environment for EV charging.

Stefan points out that India faces various challenges, including raw material availability, supply chain issues, and the need for indigenous EV component manufacturers. The slow growth in the renewable energy sector for charging EV batteries and the absence of skilled talent, proper regulatory guidelines, certification requirements, and battery testing standards also pose hurdles. India’s diverse geographical terrains and varying climate conditions complicate EV infrastructure development.

Awadesh believes that the adoption of new technology brings its own set of challenges. In the case of EVs, key stakeholders include original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), charging infrastructure providers, and consumers. Addressing these challenges is crucial to facilitate mass-market adoption. The high upfront costs of EVs compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles have been a major barrier, particularly in the lower-end car segment. However, introducing more affordable EV models and converging ICE and EV costs within the next few years are expected to drive adoption.

Another challenge lies in the limited choice of available EV models. However, with significant investments expected in EV-related technology and manufacturing facilities, more OEMs will introduce various models, offering consumers a wider selection.

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Debunking myths and raising awareness about EVs and fast charging is crucial for consumer acceptance. A sustained awareness campaign involving stakeholders at all levels can empower consumers to make informed decisions about EV purchases.

Collaboration among stakeholders is imperative to overcome these challenges and drive widespread adoption. The government is vital in creating an enabling policy framework aligned with technology and consumer requirements. By fostering an environment where consumers can confidently access EV fuel stations and ensuring the convergence of upfront costs, the stage is set for accelerated growth.

Regarding driving the widespread EV adoption, Niranjan Highlights the Significance of EV Battery Standardisation and Interoperability in India. Niranjan emphasises that EV battery standardisation and interoperability play pivotal roles in facilitating India’s extensive adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Delta Electronics India acknowledges their crucial importance for market growth and compatibility.

Interoperability of EV batteries 

Interoperability allows for the usage of interchangeable batteries across different EV brands, eliminating the need for proprietary charging infrastructure. This enhances convenience, instils consumer confidence, and promotes the acceptance of EVs.

Battery standardisation, on the other hand, supports the development of robust charging infrastructure by enabling charging stations to accommodate diverse EVs without requiring multiple interfaces. Niranjan believes that it simplifies the deployment process, encourages investments, and facilitates scalability.

When considering the impact of electric vehicles (EVs) on the power grid, it is anticipated that the demand will increase gradually and represent only a portion of the country’s overall capacity. Furthermore, the type of pressure exerted by EVs will differ significantly, necessitating power grids to become smarter and more flexible.

India possesses the potential to power a complete fleet of electric vehicles successfully, thanks to the government’s policy initiatives aimed at establishing a thriving EV market. The industry is optimistic that timely policy modifications will effectively address efficiency challenges.

The FAME II subsidy, designed to accelerate EV adoption in specific segments, has generated demand for electric buses, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, passenger cars, and two-wheelers. Additionally, introducing a battery-swapping policy, primarily targeting two-wheelers and three-wheelers, has further stimulated EV adoption. However, the success of these initiatives relies heavily on the presence of a dynamic charging infrastructure capable of meeting the increased demand.

“High upfront costs and limited choice hinder mass-market adoption” – Awadhesh Kumar Jha, Executive Director, Fortum Charge & Drive India.

“Robust charging infrastructure key to unlocking widespread EV adoption.” – Stefan Louis, CEO, Nexcharge.

“Interoperability enhances convenience, instills confidence, and promotes EV acceptance.” – Niranjan Nayak, Managing Director, Delta Electronics India.

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