In her ‘green budget’, with a strong push to meet decarbonisation objectives, the Finance Minister has announced some much-needed support measures for electric vehicles (EV) as the availability of seamless and widespread charging infrastructure is the need of the hour to aid the EV revolution in the country.

While new-age players have been driving the EV market, the budget announcements may lead to the further active role of start-ups.

Improving user confidence

The government’s proposals are expected to improve user confidence and accelerate EV adoption as the measures will address the range anxiety issue, which is seen as one of the impediments to the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Battery swapping is expected to help democratise the buying of EVs by reducing the cost of ownership and enabling the ease of buying.

“The government has been privy to the fact that the way forward in the mobility sector is to shift to EVs. Interoperability standards will help address range anxiety issues and battery swapping stations will be an asset to the evolving EV ecosystem across the country,” said Naveen Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Electric.

Rajesh Jejurikar, Executive Director, Auto & Farm Sectors, Mahindra and Mahindra, stated that battery swapping could offer a practical alternative to increase adoption of EVs and “M&M will work with all stakeholders in formulating interoperability standards as well as driving innovation in the battery as a service business model.” 

But, industry experts present different views on the benefit of the battery swapping model. “In any transport system that moves in a fixed route and wherein one entity owns the vehicle as well as the swapping station the demand management of batteries is much easier. So buses become the best candidate for this and if the density of the network increases (e.g. in Taiwan), 3W and 2W can also be accommodated,” said Ashim Sharma, Partner & Group Head at NRI Consulting & Solutions.

Multiple operating models

Multiple operating models will continue to compete for a share in the Indian EV market spanning both privately owned and public transport systems.

“Battery swapping is a model which may initially find traction in the two & three-wheeler market, due to the smaller lithium battery sizes and the lower footprint requirements from an infra/land bank perspective,” said Vinay Raghunath, Partner and Automotive sector Leader, EY India.

Of course, a lot will, however, also depend on the evolution of standardisation of the battery, not only in terms of size but also in terms of battery technology.

“Swapping policy will call for collective efforts by electric vehicle OEMs to launch models with interoperable batteries across their product lines,” stated Rishabh Jain, Programme Lead, CEEW Centre for Energy Finance.

FM’s announcement to encourage ‘Battery or Energy as a Service’ business would throw up opportunities for start-ups and may result in collaboration between vehicle manufacturers and battery/service technology providers to foray into BaaS (Battery as a Service) to scale up charging infrastructure.”

Suhas Rajkumar, CEO & Founder, Simple Energy, felt that impetus should be given on developing safer battery packs as swapping stations cannot be applied to direct consumers given the safety aspect as this will further lead to making the ownership of the vehicle complex.