Electric vehicle charging operators are looking to expand the charging network in the cities of Tamil Nadu as fleet electrification takes off in the State.

Till now, the charging operators’ focus areas have been the highways. Now, an opportunity to put up public charging stations inside cities emerges with the permission for private electric fleets.

In June this year, the Tamil Nadu government issued an order to allow commercial passenger fleets to operate electric cars in their fleet. This has been long overdue as other States started fleet electrification much before. With the TN government passing the government order that enables the registration of EVs as taxis, cab operators have started to deploy battery-powered cars in their fleets.

New Pandian Travels

In a first approval, the State transport department has permitted a leading private transport services provider New Pandian Travels (NPT), which operates about 4,500 vehicles to ferry about 70,000 people a day in south India, to induct electric cars in its fleet for ferrying staff of leading corporates in the city. 

Of the 100 units planned, NPT has deployed about 70 electric sedans – Tata Xpress-T EV in its fleet – in Chennai for corporate staff transportation.

More fleet operators and leading players like Ola and Uber are also expected to deploy e-cars in Chennai as EVs offer the lowest cost of operations. Also, corporates are promoting e-mobility as part of their larger ESG goals.

Need for charging stations

EV charging operators are evaluating various options for the expansion of charging stations. Companies such as Zeon are looking to set up captive charges exclusively for fleet companies.

“We will be working closely with NPT and other fleet operators to roll out captive charging hubs at various locations.  Additionally, fleet operators will also be able to take advantage of our ever-expanding public charging network for inter & intra city journeys,” K P Karthikeyan, CEO & Co-Founder,  Zeon Electric Pvt Ltd said.

Since operators like NPT are mostly in corporate employee transportation, Zeon is looking to work with NPT’s corporate clients or developers of IT parks to set up charging stations inside their premises for the EV fleet that is used to ferry people. These will be captive chargers.

With fleet electrification kicking off in cities in Tamil Nadu, there will be a need for more charging points in the cities. So far, these companies have been focusing on putting up charging stations on highways to support individual users of electric cars.

“We have to start focusing on deploying more charging stations within in Chennai,” said Karthikeyan adding, ”However, real estate is seen as a big challenge for the operators to put up more charging stations in cities like Chennai.

“If government entities like the Corporation of Chennai, railway or metro authorities open up their spaces across cities for hosting public charging stations, it will help have adequate charging units in the city for e-fleets, thereby enabling the State to accelerate its decarbonisation push in the transports sector, he stated.