Opinion

Battery swapping...

Varun Goenka | Updated on June 03, 2021

... the key to ignite greater EV adoption

Climate change is increasingly becoming visible in the form of inexplicable weather phenomena.

In a race to reduce emissions, global decisions makers have zeroed in on electric mobility as one of the solutions. However, in order to make people choose electric vehicles over the fossil fuel powered vehicles, the affordability and price-performance of EVs is of utmost importance — which will also make it appealing to private and commercial fleet users alike.

In India, where public transportation handles bulk of movement, price concerns need to be resolved to make EV operations profitable for the fleet owners. This is where battery swapping offers answers to two of the most glaring questions faced by the EV enthusiasts: Range Anxiety (number of kms that can be covered without need to recharge), and the economic viability of operating EVs.

The government recently allowed purchase of EVs without batteries which made them significantly cheaper. This decision doesn’t imply that vehicles will not require a battery, but is rather aimed at allowing the EV owners to avoid the compulsion of purchasing costly batteries . As a vehicle owner, one would be able to lease a battery from a battery swapping service provider and get an agreed number of swaps per month or even on a weekly or daily basis as per the terms of lease.

In fact, for fleet owners and commercial EV users such as e-rickshaws and e-two-wheelers, pay per swap options are also possible. Through such an efficient and affordable option of battery swapping where a user can buy the vehicle at up to 40 per cent less and use it without range anxiety, it is possible to boost mass adoption of EVs in India.

EVs help in preventing pollution at two stages. First, the process of extracting fossil fuels and refining them for use causes a lot of pollution at oil wells and refineries. Secondly, the burning of fossil fuels causes significant addition of environmental pollutions and GHGs. The EVs cause no such emission problems. Another major environmental benefit of battery swapping services is that the battery usage, lifecycle management and disposal become regulated. Instead of dumping the discarded batteries into open scrap yards or garbage disposal plants, the batteries can be effectively recycled. Batteries contain materials like lead and discarding them randomly causes severe ground, air and water pollution due to decay of such substances. Other components such as lithium, cadmium, etc., are present in small quantities in our environment and recycling the batteries is the only way to prevent their depletion.

Price performance

Through battery swapping, we can not only encourage the adoption of the EVs, but, also make their price-performance improve drastically. For instance, e-rickshaws form the bulk of the EVs in India, and a good BSS can swap the e-rickshaw battery in 2 minutes.

This allows the e-rickshaw driver to drive for up to double the number of kms compared to conventional practices and enjoy far superior price-performance. With time and adoption of other EV types, similar battery swapping cost benefits can be enjoyed by their users too.

The government has already taken several steps to encourage EV production and usage. Lowering GST on EVs, allowing for battery free purchase and tax incentives to EV buyers have been among the measures.

However, the time is ideal now for the government to further provide impetus to the EV ecosystem by enhancing the financing of the vehicles as well as batteries. The EVs can be made a priority sector for lending and if the government can provide affordable finance for the vehicle and battery purchase, similar to how renewable energy equipments are financed, there can be a great surge in EV demand in the years to come.

This demand will be good for our environment and health as well as productivity of the populations who will breathe in cleaner air!

The writer is Co-founder and CEO, Chargeup

Published on June 03, 2021

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