EV Industry Charged Up

The electric vehicle stakeholders expressed that the budget announcement of a battery swapping policy and interoperability standards will facilitate faster adoption of EVs

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One of the impediments to transition to electric vehicles (EVs) in India is the lack of charging infrastructure and thereby the issue of range anxiety. And, that is why finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman's announcement of a battery swapping policy and interoperability standards is being welcomed by the industry.

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"Considering the constraint of space in urban areas for setting up charging stations at scale, a battery swapping policy will be brought out and interoperability standards will be formulated," Sitharaman said in the budget speech.

This comes in line with the government's target of 30 per cent penetration of EVs on Indian roads by 2030 under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EV (FAME) scheme in 2015 with an outlay of INR 8.95 billion, which provided subsidies for electric 2- and 3-wheelers, hybrid and e-cars and buses.

"The budget announcement is a significant progress towards the government's targets of electrifying transport in the country. The launch of special mobility zones for EVs, with zero fossil fuels will help increase EV penetration in public transport, while the battery swapping policy will help with the deployment of charging infrastructure at scale," said Anjali Bansal, founder, Avaana Capital.

Bansal added that the formulation of interoperability standards will be important to bring stability to the sector. Further commenting on the government's decision to encourage the private sector to develop sustainable and innovative business models for "Battery or Energy as a Service' to improve efficiency in the EV ecosystem, she said, "Battery-as-a-service and energy-as-a-service will help catalyze innovation and investments in these sectors. EV is a continuously evolving and innovating sector, requiring investments across battery-tech, improved vehicle quality and faster charging. The increase in government contribution for R&D in clean mobility will provide an impetus to this innovation, and help bring about sustainable development at scale."

Battery swapping technology allows consumers to replace their depleted batteries with fully-charged ones at charging stations. Okinawa, Simple Energy, Bounce, EeVe, Battery Smart, RACEnergy, Lohum cleantech are some of the players offering the tech and are expected to benefit the most by the announcement.

Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO and co-founder, Bounce said, "We welcome Honourable Finance Minister's progressive vision to facilitate faster adoption of electric vehicles in the country. With the Budget 2022 -2023 announcement on bringing out a robust battery swapping policy, this is a vindication of the path that we have pioneered for Bounce."

"Government and policymakers have recognised battery swapping as the most effective solution to accelerate EV adoption in India by addressing range anxiety and hesitancy in adoption as well as considering the pragmatic aspects of setting up charging infrastructure – for instance, space constraints in urban areas for dedicated charging stations. We believe this move can enable affordable and clean mobility at scale. At Bounce, we are nearing a million battery swaps already and the Hon'ble Finance Minister's announcement ties in with our vision that clean, affordable mobility is a fundamental right," he added.

Additionally, the decision is expected to benefit players in the last-mile delivery space who were willing to switch to EVs but were skeptical about its viability due to time constraints in battery charging. "This will make battery-as-a-service possible and will make EVs more accessible and affordable by reducing the cost of ownership and operating cost thus giving a boost to low-cost EV last-mile deliveries and affordable rides to 82 per cent India who doesn't own 2W/4W," said Mohit Sharma, Founder, Oye! Rickshaw.

Seconding him, Sohinder Gill, Director General at Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles said, "Introducing the battery swapping policy and recognizing battery or energy as a service will help develop EV infrastructure and increase the use of EVs in public transportation. It would motivate businesses engaged in delivery and car aggregation businesses to incorporate EVs into their fleet."

The EV industry firmly believes that the favorable announcement in the budget policy will play a huge role in creating an EV infrastructure and bring in more confidence in customers.