Indian unit of Amazon has recently announced that it would deploy 100 electric three wheelers in seven cities in India. Not to be left behind, its competitor, Flipkart owned by Walmart has also announced that it would deploy 25,000 electric vehicles in India by 2030 to deliver its goods across the country. Such announcements are just the beginning and many others are likely to follow the suit. When home delivery (of food, groceries, etc.) business or cab hailing business are getting formalised it may not take much longer time for this spark to spread and become a trend.
According to International Energy Agency (IEA), “EV sales share across all modes (including two/three-wheelers) in India is above 30% in 2030 in the Stated Policies Scenario. Reflecting the intentions of FAME II, EV deployment in India is mainly achieved through the electrification of two/three-wheelers, which reach a sales share of almost 50%. The rate of electrification of buses and LDVs is lower, below 15% sales share in 2030.”
“In the Sustainable Development Scenario, EV sales shares in India scale up to almost 50% in 2030 across all road vehicle modes (30% excluding two/three-wheelers). By 2030 almost 60% of all two/three wheelers sold are electric, as are about 30% of LDVs and buses.”
EVs also need charging infra
Vehicles are being manufactured and are plying on the roads even today and EVs too can run on the same roads. But the difference here is with regard to refuelling (in case of EVs its charging) of the vehicles and the infrastructure needed for the same. Its not just the manufacturing facilities or the roads but EVs also need widespread charging infrastructure for its growth.
Lack of information about EV infra
Presently, there is lack of enough information about the number of charging stations available, their location and the calculation of the charging price/rate. Remember the scenario we had seen in some major cities when petrol based three-wheelers were asked to convert their vehicles into CNG based ones. Initially we had seen long queues in front of fuel stations because limited number of stations had NNG filling facility. This lacuna also had an impact on vehicle owners converting their vehicles into CNG. Similar situation is likely to be faced in case of EVs. Also, there is lack of clarity as to tariff regime for the EVs. Since the electricity charges are determined by the state governments fuel charges will vary drastically from state to state and city to city within the state. Presently, though petrol and diesel are subject to state levies their basic price is based on import parity as determined by the formula of central government. As a result, petrol and diesel prices don’t vary much from state to state.
EV charging infra being added slowly
Slowly but surely the charging infrastructure is being expanded notably by existing power companies (e.g. Tata Power) and startups (e.g., Volttic and Sunergize) in highways, tourist locations, hotels, offices, malls, parking areas, dealerships, residential societies, etc. For example, Tata Power has a network of 456 charging stations across 102 cities and 27 highways. Along with presence in AC/DC charging, it has setup 80 ultra-high capacity chargers for public transport buses. It is planning to expand public charging points to 2,500 in FY22 and to 100,000 over the medium term.
In India, charging infrastructure is not evenly distributed across the country. Most of the charging stations are located in Western and Southern India while some more you find in Northern part of the country. However, the population of charging stations is sparse in Central and Eastern India.
Some policy initiatives are needed
Technological change, government policy, city planning and power utilities all play a role in EV charging infrastructure. The location, distribution and types of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) depend on EV stocks, travel patterns, transport modes and urbanisation trends. These and other factors vary across regions and time.
However, its heartening to note that the government is working on charging and swapping standards and a notification is expected in future. It is also focused on safety of batteries and rigorous tests are being undertaken at ARAI electric mobility centers.
A new business opportunity
For 100mn EV population, it would require at least Rs 3mn publicly accessible charging stations. Charging for Buses require complex and dedicated hubs, Cars would depend more on fast charging and 2W/3W will be depend more on home charging or battery swapping.
Investment required to set up a public charging station, which includes 5 types of chargers – Level 1 AC (3×3.3kW), Level 2 AC (22kW), Bharat DC – 001 (15kW), CHAdeMO (50kW) and CCS (50kW) – stands at Rs3mn. State governments such as Maharashtra are providing up to Rs1mn subsidy. Annual operational expenditure stands at around Rs1mn. Payback period for a charging station can be around 3-4 years, depending on utilization levels.
Presently, lack of charging infrastructure and long charging times are the key barriers for the speedy transmission into EV mode. Another hurdle in the growth is the lack of awareness about the EVs. Creating awareness will be an important factor in achieving the goal since India has vast rural market too.
However, going by the trend its the home chargers which will be in heavy use and in India too its likely to become a trend. The estimated number of private light duty vehicle (LDV) chargers in 2020 is 9.5 million, of which 7 million are at residences and the remainder at workplaces. In India two-wheelers are likely to be the first one to get converted into EVs as such need for chargers in residences will be even more. So, location of these chargers, especially in buildings with divided ownerships (cooperative housing societies) will be crucial – both for new and existing buildings. Our existing byelaws have to be reframed taking this new trend into account as the EVs are likely to gain prominence by 2030. So, a lot of ground need to be covered before EVs become a trend.