Public sector oil company Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), in collaboration with Pune-based Kinetic Green Energy & Power Solutions and IIT-Madras, has entered the electric vehicle space with the launch of e-Drive, an EV mobility system based on the battery-swapping model for electric three-wheelers.

Under the alliance, the electric three-wheelers will be owned or sold by Kinetic Green, which has been selling electric passenger and cargo three-wheelers. BPCL, with the technology support for mobile app, battery management system and other systems from IIT-Madras, will provide the lithium-ion batteries for the vehicles.

“This is the first-of-its-kind venture in the country. Electric vehicles will be the key for the future and their share in urban transportation will continue to increase in the coming years amid certain challenges. Since dealers are our major strength, we worked out this swappable model so that they can also be part of the EV revolution. This initiative will also provide us a new segment of customers,” said D Rajkumar, Chairman & Managing Director, BPCL, after rolling out the initiative here.

Electric three-wheelers cost much more than the CNG or diesel-powered vehicles. The model seeks to make the upfront investment lower for the buyers. With the separation of the battery from the vehicle, the initial EV cost is brought below the price of diesel or CNG vehicles.

Addressing range anxiety

“Battery accounts for the major cost and without it, the cost of electric three-wheeler will be lower (by about 50 per cent) than that of diesel of CNG-powered vehicles. For instance, the price of an electric auto could come down to about ₹1.4 lakh (without battery) from about ₹2.75 lakh (with battery). At ₹1.4 lakh, an electric three-wheeler will be cheaper than a CNG-powered three-wheeler. With the swappable system, even the running cost will be lower compared with diesel-run vehicles,” said Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Founder & CEO of Kinetic Green.

Initially, select fuel outlets of BPCL will have battery swapping stations; each station will store about 200 batteries and the drivers/owners of electric three-wheelers can exchange their discharged batteries with charged batteries.

For an e-rickshaw, two batteries or 3KwH will be used for a range of 50-60 km, and for a high-speed e-auto, three batteries will be used.

e-Drive is being rolled out in two cities – Kochi and Lucknow – as of now. The alliance plans to launch this initiative in 7-8 more cities in the next few months.

In Kochi, vehicles under the swappable platform are deployed at metro stations to offer last-mile connectivity to passengers at just ₹10.