Unlike a regular ICE vehicle, refuelling an EV battery with electricity is a time-consuming process. Even “Fast” charging takes at least an hour to get to 80% of charge capacity, that is nowhere as quick as getting your car filled up at a fuel station. How do we find a workaround for this? Battery Swapping seems to be a potent solution for commercial vehicles like three-wheelers /taxis/buses, or automaker operated battery exchange networks e.g. Gogoro and Kymco Ionex switching stations for their two-wheelers. However, it is not a suitable solution for other private vehicles owing to concerns about battery ownership and reliability of a leased battery.
The current set of electric two-wheelers available in the Indian market offer range of more than 70 km, that is good enough to cover the intra-city travel done by most two-wheelers on a daily basis. Similarly, original Tigor EV that offers the lowest range among electric cars can go 140 km on a single charge, which should be sufficient for the everyday commute of most people. Other electric cars offer longer ranges e.g. [Tigot EV Extended Range – 213 km, Mahindra e-verito – 180 km, Hyundai Kona – 450 km]. However, the range anxiety rightly kicks in when a potential EV buyer weighs in inter-city trips. Among other things, the decision to purchase an electric vehicle will rest on the availability of reliable charging infrastructure along the longer routes buyers want to frequent.
In fact, we believe that charging infra and EV penetration is not the chicken and egg problem it is generally touted to be. The charging infra needs to come up first to instil confidence among buyers to invest in the EVs. And this charging infra needs to be decentralized, shared and distributed.
BHEL recently set up EV chargers along the 250 km, Delhi-Chandigarh highway at five resorts of Haryana Tourism Corporation at regular intervals. These resorts are frequented by travellers for refreshments and mid-journey breaks. Though not much detail is available on the type and number of charging guns or pricing model of these charging stations, nonetheless, it makes an excellent proposition for the resorts commercially.
Why hotels/restaurants are suited for providing charging facilities?
EVs offer flexibility that ICE vehicles never could – the ability to refuel anywhere you can find a 15 Amp socket i.e. almost any establishment. For this reason, the number of public charging stations required within a city will be way less than the number of fuel stations, because, for intra-city travel, one can always charge at home and office. Most of the EV charging around the world takes place at homes via over-night charging. Same is the case with India where electric two-wheelers are conveniently charged in a matter of 3-4 hours using a standard 15 Amp socket at home. The approach towards refuelling will eventually need to shift from finding a fuel station to charging where you park for a long time. For accelerating electric car adoption in the country, it makes a greater use case to build a strong charging network outside the cities rather than making the charging infrastructure city-concentric.
From the above discussion, we come to convergence of the following conditions:
1. Charging an electric vehicle takes its own sweet time. People will look for a suitable place to spend that time while the vehicle is juiced up.
2. Establishment support is required to provide charging service.
3. We’re talking about long routes and inter-city travel where range anxiety kicks in. People will plan their trips and mid-way breaks accordingly so they can get a bite for themselves and the car.
Solution – the restaurants and hotels along the way have an excellent opportunity to provide charging services to the commuters and attract more customers.
What’s in it for hotel/restaurant owners?
1. Unique selling point – As charging infra is in a nascent stage in the country, having charging facility will set you up for a USP. Also, what is currently a USP might become a critical factor for people to consider a spot for refreshment breaks while planning an inter-city trip in the future as the number of EVs increase.
2. Time of stay – As charging takes time, at least 1-1.5 hours to juice up for a considerable distance, customers will spend more time at your facility than a regular break – leading to higher sales.
3. Great chance to build loyalty with the customers who drive EVs.
4. Even within the cities, cafes and other eating joints can ramp up their green quotient by providing charging services. Ather Energy and Tork Motors are already in the game, partnering with local cafe/restaurants in their cities of launch to set up chargers.
As a hotel owner, how do I go about offering charging service?
a. The inexpensive solution is to provide standard 15 Amp sockets in the parking area. Customers will bring in their own cables to connect the supply to the car.
b. Or, you may choose to install EVSEs (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) / chargers to have additional safety checks and functions like the amount of electricity consumed and the ability to bill the users based on consumption. There are many types of EVSEs available catering to different types of charging – AC and DC, different charging protocols and power outputs. You can read about these in Guide to EV Charging Standards in India. Many players in the market can help with end to end installation of EVSEs. Please refer to List of EV Charging Solution Providers in India.
Once the charging facility is established, make sure to list it on the apps that provide information on public charging points such as Recharge India app. In case of an EVSE installation, many of the EVSE solution providers have their own charge point discovery apps, and your facility will be added to it.
How much will it cost me to provide charging service?
The cost of setting up the charging service depends on the solution you opted for (from above section), which is minimal in case of installing regular 15 Amp sockets. These will consume a max of 2.5 units (2.5 kWh) of electricity per hour of charging. In the case of EVSE installation, the cost will be higher and depend on the type of chargers installed. e.g. an AC-001 Bharat charger with 3 output guns of 3.3 kW each can cost around 50,000-70,000 INR, whereas single-gun DC-001 with a 15 kW output will cost between INR 2.5-2.75 Lakhs. The electricity consumed depends on the power output of the installed charger, the vehicle’s on-board charger and battery configuration. EVSE will provide exact information on the amount of energy consumed for each charge.
According to Latif Ameer Babu – Director EVQPoint, amendments in the charging guidelines allows one to install any AC or DC charger that complies with Standards AIS 138 – 1, and AIS 138 – 2 respectively as per the market requirement (viz. Type-2 AC, Bharat AC 001, CCS, CHAdeMO etc.). “This has opened up a new opportunity for many entrepreneurs to start Public Charging Stations setting up slow AC Charger network, even with one AC charger”, he quoted.
[Chargers like CCS and CHAdeMO for high-voltage vehicles can cost upwards of INR 14 lakhs each and can be taken up by dedicated Public Charging Infrastructure providers for Fast Charging, also known as FCS or Fast Charging Stations along the highways. Any charging facilities above 50 kW total output are recommended to get safety clearance and may require transformer installation.]
Any change takes getting used to. In more evolved EV markets of the world, setting up charging solutions at hotels and restaurants is already a key area of focus for EV charging solution providers. In India as well, efforts should be made to get the hotel and restaurant associations on-board with the idea. Though the hotel won’t get much direct income from the charging service, it will make a significant pull factor for the travellers. The shift to EVs from ICE vehicles marks the ongoing transformation in our mobility system and the support systems designed around it. A well-distributed charging network and a little planning of the journey can go a long way in making India EV ready.
We would like to thank Mr Akshaye Barbuddhe – Business Head for E-Mobility Infrastructure at Delta Electronics and Mr Latif Ameer Babu – Director, EVQPoint, for their inputs on the subject.