The Indian Government’s sustained and growing commitment to mobilize a gradual shift to an electric vehicle (EV)-led transport system is worth appreciation. It is not only a leap into an all-electric future, it is also a singular solution to multiple problems of health, environment, and affordability of vehicles. The EV industry faces a major challenge of charging infrastructure constraints, which has been affecting EV adoption.
However, in February 2022, along with the budget, the Central Government introduced an innovative solution – that of rolling out a battery swapping policy later in the year. Ever since the announcement has been making waves in the EV sector. The initiative has been welcomed as a game-changer because it will act as a growth driver of Battery/Energy as a Service (BaaS and EaaS) which will give rise to innovative business models in plugging the gap.
There are several advantages of rolling out the battery swapping policy. It will save a lot of time amidst travel, which otherwise would have gone into charging the EVs. At present, the idea of swapping batteries may sound expensive but at a mass scale, the battery swapping policy will be more pocket friendly. It will also help EV makers invest in lesser battery space.
The distance covered in a single charge or the range anxiety is one of the gravest concerns that the consumers have which results in lesser adoption of EVs. The battery swapping model will address range anxiety. It will also form the foundation of BaaS or EaaS solutions, such as subscription-based models, which will facilitate battery swapping via small swapping stations anywhere in India.
While the new generation EV customers will be more receptive to a battery swapping model, it will be most accepted by those B2B mobility segments such as delivery and logistics which have to perform under time constraints. Swapping batteries will enable drivers in shifts to extract more from the vehicle. The owners of EV fleets would be able to choose operational expenditure over capital expenditure, as the swapping of the battery will help optimize the use of the EV fleets.
However, to make the battery swapping model a success, it would need the implementation of uniform standards of EV batteries implemented to bring inter-operability amongst electric vehicles , something which the Government is already working towards. Working at an express pace, the Government is seeking industry recommendations to prepare the draft policy. With regards to the same, the battery swapping policies need to address certain key concerns.
Before the huge investments into battery swapping technology, a proper revenue model should be developed, consulting the stakeholders and manufacturers. Battery consumption to price ratio should be kept in such a way to tackle the price-sensitive market of India, which will benefit the customers as well as the manufacturers.
First and foremost, both the Government and industry realize that battery packs should be standardized. All stakeholders have to be on the same page pertaining to the chassis structure and battery specification. Presently, companies are using different types of batteries, including Lithium Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride, Nickel Cadmium, and Lead Acid. The policy needs to address a standardized composition of all types of battery is done. Batteries degrade and their efficiency decreases over time due to prolonged usage. Different driving styles of riders can put excess pressure on the BMS system and can also degrade the battery. While swapping batteries, it would have to be determined whether the battery replaced is of the same life as the owner’s original.
Presently, depending upon the variety of batteries, their weight, and other properties. The standardized size may impact the ergonomics or handling of the vehicles due to the unstable center of mass. Hence, manufacturers would need to have more elements and design specs standardized. This will minimize the differentiating factors between brands, and the driving experience of different products in the market will be quite similar.
The initial cost of installing swapping stations is much more than fast-charging stations. According to a study, the cost difference can be in a ratio of 1:16. Therefore, the cost of installing a swapping station needs to be absorbed. Furthermore, battery production would have to be increased to support the players in battery swapping. With regards to sustainability, EV batteries will generate huge volumes of e-waste. Therefore, simultaneous complete recycling infrastructure should be implemented simultaneously. The Government also needs to consider the capabilities of small-scale regional EV players who might find it difficult to adopt standardization.
While industry participation is needed to address the challenges, with the meeting of minds of different stakeholders, the solutions to these concerns can be resolved. The battery swapping policy can be most effective in the commercial vehicle sector, as fleet managers would look forward to uniform, standardized, and cost-effective solutions to manage their businesses. There is a lesser variation of differences, and low taste preferences when it comes to commercial vehicles and standardization of the kind will be more applicable in such cases.
The two-wheeler segment can have a different approach of mandating two carry two batteries, a fixed and a portable one, to address range anxiety and charging issues. Furthermore, it will be advisable for the industry to have a varied product portfolio of vehicles comprising both swappable and fixed battery type. This is important because standardization may take away the USP factor in terms of form, performance, and design, which will cause the consumer to lose interest in the segment.
A battery swapping policy can turn out to be a great strategy in the long run. A prudent battery swapping policy will be a game-changer to the EV charging problem. However, uniform and the across-the-board consensus is required to make its implementation successful. The industry is keenly looking forward to the policy in its final shape and form and would extend complete support to the Government in its implementation.
Reference : https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/auto/news/battery-swapping-policy-as-a-game-changer-to-ev-charging-woes/articleshow/91098472.cms