EV Charging Infrastructure in India – Is the Government getting it right?

In this guest article, Sunil Krishna presents his analysis of the Government’s initiatives for establishing EV Charging Infrastructure in the country.

Background

Department of Heavy Industries had invited the Expression of Interest (EoI) from million-plus population cities, smart cities, State capitals/Union Territories and cities from special category states to avail incentives under FAME II for the deployment of EV charging infrastructure within cities. As recent news items indicate, of the 106 proposals received from public/private entities for about 7000 EV charging stations, the government has sanctioned 2636 charging stations to 62 cities across 24 states/UTs to be installed by 19 public entities. Out of the 2636 charging stations, 1633 charging stations will be fast charging stations and 1003 will be slow charging stations. With this, about 20,000 charging points will be installed across the selected cities.

As per the EoI, charging stations are categorized as:

Type of Charging StationsMinimum Number of Charging GunsNumber of EVs to be charged simultaneouslyTypes of Chargers MandatoryOptional Chargers (Any number in combination of one or more types of chargers)
Slow Charging Stations1010Bharat AC 001 10 kW (3.3kW X 3 Guns)Bharat DC 001 (15 kW) 1 Gun
Type II AC Charger
Fast Charging Stations66CCS2 & CHAdeMO of 50 kW or higher capacityBharat DC 001 (15 kW) 1 Gun Type II AC Charger 22 kW or higher

Cost Considerations for Charging Stations

If one were to consider an average cost of Rs. 18-20 lakhs per charging gun for a Fast Charging Station (including cabling, panels, breakers, metering, civil works etc), the CAPEX per station excluding land cost/rent will be around Rs. 1.2 Crores. Similarly, Slow Charging Stations will cost a minimum of Rs. 6-7 Lakhs to set up. Considering that the Government will fund 50-100% of the costs depending on the location and type of users (as defined in the EoI), we can expect an outlay of approximately Rs. 1,400 Cr for this initiative under FAME II. 

While the intent and efforts of the Government are laudable, one wonders if this is money well spent from the perspective of successfully creating an ecosystem to support rapid EV adoption.

Understanding Charging Patterns

Let us look at the below matrix to understand the likely charging patterns of EVs.

*e-Buses will be charged at the depots of their corporations; Bus OEMs are likely to use CCS2 or proprietary charging technology. If they supply a fleet of vehicles, they are likely to supply the necessary charging infrastructure as well.

The % figures in the table indicate the likelihood of a certain type of EV using a certain kind of a charger.

Charging Pattern for Private Vehicles

A private car owner who has a car with a range of 300 km but only runs it for 50-60 km (maximum) per day will look to have simple low cost charging solutions at home or place of work where the car will be parked for a significant amount of time. Every time a car is plugged in, it is likely that the batteries will already be at 50-60% charge level. A car with a 7 kW onboard charger and 40 kWh battery pack, when connected to AC supply that can deliver 7 kWh output, will charge from 0-100% in under 7 hrs. However, if the car plugs in at office/home with 50% charge available in the batteries, the top-up will happen in 3-4 hrs, that is much less than the time a vehicle is usually parked at these locations. The same logic holds true for personal 2-wheeler owners too.

Charging Patterns for 3Ws

Autos and e-Rickshaws could go either the charging or battery swapping way. Different OEMs have indicated varying preferences. While Mahindra has launched electric 3Ws with external chargers, Piaggio has inclined towards battery swapping. Bajaj and TVS are waiting and watching but most likely to come out with models compatible with either charging strategy.

The real range (100+ km) offered by the auto is very close to the distance driven in a day which is 100-125 km. The autos currently in the market and the ones likely to be launched in the near future have external chargers, i.e. they do not have onboard chargers for easier compliance to the EMI/protections norms as laid out by ARAI. The external chargers typically have an Anderson/DC connector on the vehicle side and a 3 pin regular 230 V/15 A or 5A plug on the AC side. Considering this, drivers will be very comfortable in charging their autos by connecting to any available 230V/ 5A or 15A socket at home for major charging during non-working hours. To overcome range anxiety (for 25-50 km shortfall to get home), the auto drivers will require to charge between 3-5 kWh/ per day which they could potentially manage by picking lunch/tea spots where they get access to a socket/public AC charger.

Charging Pattern for Commercial 4Ws

Public DC Chargers become critical only for segments such as cabs that will use electric vehicles with lower capacity battery packs (e-Verito, Tata Tigor, e2O) <25 kWh. As their daily usage would be approximately 2 times the range, they will require fast charging at least 2 times a day if they operate within the city. One will require access to chargers on highways in case of intercity travel. However, with e-Nexon providing a real range of approximately 200 km (300 km ARAI) and on-road price (likely) of Rs. 12-13 lakhs post FAME II subsidy, the criticality of DC chargers reduces significantly for intra-city cab services. Fleets such as Lithium, Baghirathi have developed algorithms that optimize the location of company-owned DC chargers for their vehicles thereby optimizing fleet utilization and up-time.

Concluding Thoughts and Recommendations

One worries that the expensive 1633 DC charging stations are likely to end up highly unutilized and hence unmaintained eventually. DC Chargers will only serve to reduce range anxiety for private owners when they go on long drives beyond the range of the vehicles.

If the Government were to restrict these DC charging stations to intervals of 100 km on major highways connecting Tier 1 cities and at airports/major railway stations initially, that would serve the purpose for solving range anxiety – in essence, about 800 DC Chargers with 6 guns each as part of FAME-II would suffice.

As EV industry grows and demand rises, private charging infrastructure operators will come up to solve the issues of a more mature industry.

The balance funds under FAME-II could be used to solve the more pressing issue of incentivising multi tenement apartments, commercial office properties, malls, hospitals, kerbside parking operators to set up smart charging infrastructure where basic user authentication, metering, billing and safe delivery of power can be ensured. For the next 4-5 years, the numbers of EVs on the roads will not excite anyone to look at running charging infrastructure as a standalone business. Hence the Government can provide deep subsidies to individuals, group of individuals, corporate & private entities at the time of procurement of EV charging equipment very much like how the solar-based products (water heaters, solar pumps, solar lightings etc.) were incentivized initially. As the industry evolves, these subsidies can be rolled back.

Such incentives will give a boost to manufacturers to innovate and make vehicle segment-specific charging solutions. EV charging is certainly not the one size fits all ICE fuelling model – e.g. 2 and 3 wheelers will not incorporate Type-2/CCS2 inlets (which are becoming popular for 4-wheelers) due to the sheer volume of the unit inside the vehicle and a significant cost impact. 

Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Prakash Javadekar has been quoted as saying that in future at least one charging station will be available in most of the selected cities in a 4km×4km grid. One wishes his statement was more in line with Prof. Ashok Jhunjunwala’s vision of making the charging infrastructure as ubiquitous as how STD/ISD telephone booths once were! 

About the Author

Sunil Krishna

Sunil Krishna has over 15 years of Business Development experience in varied industries including Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, Renewable Projects, Defence & Aerospace and IT. He was a part of Chairman’s Strategy & Program Management team at Punj Lloyd and is passionate about contributing to the emerging EV ecosystem in India. Sunil is an alumnus of Mysore University (BE, Production) and Nirma University, Ahmedabad (MBA, Marketing)

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One thought on “EV Charging Infrastructure in India – Is the Government getting it right?

  • February 7, 2020 at 10:27 am
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    Interesting insights, but couple of points that can be given a thought are,

    1. It is assumed that for fleet operators, the vehicle when parked at home will have easy access to the connection which is generally not the case (most of the vehicles are parked on the roadside away from the house) thus in such a scenario, it will be more convenient to charge through a fast charger in 15 minutes to 1 hour.

    2. In home charging, 7 kW is power is under assumption that rest all the devices in the house are cut off which is less likely. And if the DC fast chargers that are installed under these scheme are fed by solar power in future, they make help in emissions even at the thermal power station.

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