Govt needs to spend about Rs 1.8 lakh crore in electric vehicle infrastructure to meet 2030 target
With around 6 million fast charging stations needed in India, the government would have to increase its spending on electric vehicle infrastructure.
- Government would need to spend around Rs 1.80 lakh crore on setting up fast charging points
- Fast charging unit costs about Rs 3-4 lakh to set up
- By 2030 the government needs to set up around 6 million fast charging points across India
The Indian government has set an ambitious target of 2030 for selling only electric cars in India. While the target is over a decade away, there is still a lot of work to do in order to promote the buying of electric vehicles in India.
India sold only 25,000 units of electric vehicles in FY17, a good jump from 16,000 electric vehicles sold two years ago. However, out of the total electric vehicles sold in India only a few of them are electric cars.
For instance, in FY16 out of the 22,000 electric vehicles sold only 2,000 were four-wheelers.
This shows the wide gap in the needed to be bridged for India to achieve the electric vehicle target.
Charging stations few and far in India
One of the main reasons for the low sales of electric vehicles in India is the charging infrastructure needed to support it. This includes increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations in India in order to remove the fear among consumers of their car getting stalled if they run out of power.
Currently there are only 206 community charging stations available across India, according to a recent report by Indian Express.
In addition, there are some individual electric vehicle manufacturers such as Mahindra & Mahindra and electric bike manufacturer Tork that have their own electric vehicle charging stations. Mahindra Electric at the moment has close to 50 fast charging stations, while Tork has four stations in Nagpur and a six in Pune. Tork plans to install 100 charging points in Pune.
In order to achieve the electric vehicle target by 2030 the government needs to set up around 6 million fast charging points across India considering if there are 30 million electric cars by that time (currently there are over 30 million registered cars in India).
Ever 1 fast charging point is enough to cater to 5 electric vehicles in a single day.
Investment needed by government
As the fast charging unit costs about Rs 3-4 lakh to set up, this means that the government would need to spend around Rs 1.80 lakh crore on setting up fast charging points and stations in India.
This is a huge amount that the government needs to spend if it is serious in achieving this electric vehicle target by 2030. However, it seems that this may be a bit difficult to achieve since the government has currently put very little money where its mouth is.
In FY16 the government allotted a meager sum of Rs 10 crore and Rs 20 crore towards the installation of dedicated charging infrastructure for public buses, according to the Indian Express report. This was to only create charging infrastructure for government-owned buses at their bus depots. It has yet to create any charging infrastructure for other public electrical vehicles.
Types of charging stations
While there are various different types of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, fast charging points or stations are the fastest, taking only about 37 minutes.
There are currently about 3 types of charging stations for electric vehicles based on the speed of charging. Level 1 charging is the normal plug charging which provides 120 V AC and requires 8 hours to completely charge an electric car. Level 2 charging station provides 240 V AC and requires 3-4 hours. Level 3 charging station is the fastest with DC fast charging and requires approximately 37 minutes.
The fast charging capabilities are used by Tesla which is said to take only 15 minutes to charge the car completely.
Mahesh Babu, CEO, Mahindra Electric said, “As far as fast charging set ups go, typically a unit costs about R 3 to 4 lakh. Such fast charging set ups can cater to as many as 5 to 7 electric vehicles in a single day, making perfect business sense for fleet operators. With rapid improvement in technology, the efficiencies of these chargers is increasing and the costs coming down every day.”
Is charging stations at petrol/diesel pumps possible?
Kapil Shelke, CEO and Founder of Tork says due to the time constraints currently in charging electric vehicles he says it does not make sense to setup electric charging points at current petrol and diesel pumps in India. “People today would have to wait for over half an hour to charge their vehicles at petrol and diesel pumps creating huge queues and congestion. If the charging stations can reduce the time to even 15 minutes it would make sense to set it up there,” he said.
Babu however says charge stations can be set up at regular petrol and diesel pumps. “In fact, we are in talks with several organisations with deal in fossil fuels at present, exploring suitable business models for them based on EV charging... The cost structure is the same for setting up a fast charging set up at existing fuel pumps or any other location,” he adds.
“At present such set ups are being approved by PESO (Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation) on a case to case basis. These have to adhere to PESO guidelines like distance from fuel dispensing unit, nearness to the exit etc,” Babu said.
As a result electric vehicle companies in India are promoting for setting up charging facilities in public areas such as car parks, commercial complexes and even in the parking spaces of buildings.
“Other locations like mall parking lots, restaurant parking lots or parking lots of commercial organisations can also prove to be ideal. People park their vehicles for longer durations making it very easy for them to charge while they spend time at the venue,” Babu said.
The normal charging station which can be used at homes also costs much cheaper. Shelke says the normal plug charger that can be used in homes costs around Rs 35,000.
The problem about this is that in cities such as Mumbai where people live in flats, it is impossible for people to charge their electric cars unless their parking space has a charging port.
Public private partnership
However, the government seems to be tying up with private companies for setting up electric vehicle infrastructure in India. For instance, the 50 fast charging stations set up by Mahindra Electric across Bengaluru, Delhi and Nagpur has been installed in association with the government and fleet partners such as Ola cabs and Lithium.
Babu says, “To develop this network further, support from the government will be of utmost importance. Promoting public private partnership in this regard will bring together all the necessary stakeholders to get the right momentum in place.”
Even PSU company NTPC recently announced that it is ready to venture into the business of installing charging stations for electric cars in several cities in India.
With regards to the issue of different charging plugs by different electric vehicle manufacturers, many of the companies seem to working at creating standardised charging plugs and mechanisms.
“At Mahindra Electric, we have developed charging units based on all global protocols. We are also a steering member in the CHARIn committee in Europe, which works towards developing and establishing the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the standard for charging battery-powered electric vehicles of all kinds. We also work closely with the Government of India through SIAM and have been actively participating in developing the Bharat Standard for charging which will cater to both low and high voltage charging systems in India,” Babu said.
Similarly, Shelke said that they are following government guidelines in setting up charging plugs and mechanisms. “The ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) and Niti Aayog has set up guidelines for charging facilities of electrical vehicles in India and we are following that,” he said.
While the target of 2030 seems a bit too ambitiousm, electric vehicle manufacturers seem to be positive.
“This is a commendable vision articulated by the government. World over, several studies are predicting a rapid disruption in mobility from the current model of personal fossil fuel based mobility to an electric, connected and shared model. And this shift is expected to become a reality within a decade or so,” Babu said.
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