What is a Charging Network?
An EV charging network represents a group of charging stations managed by a single Charging Network Service Provider. Internationally, Tesla Supercharger network, ChargePoint, Blink, EVgo, Greenlots and Semaconnect are among the popular charging networks.
A Charging Network may establish and operate charging stations on its own or/and it may allow other Charging Stations to enlist. There are multiple companies in India that are working on consolidating the charging stations under Charging Networks and make the charging facilities easily discoverable for the end-user.
Most of the charging networks work on OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) platform to be able to integrate the chargers manufactured by different vendors onto the network. Charging Station operators have a better chance of discovery by end-users by enlisting on a popular charging network and they also get access to a site management system that helps them with day to day operations.
Charging Network providers also facilitate businesses like corporate offices, hotels, parking lots and residential complexes to install and operate charging facilities. Some provide a dedicated dashboard for fleet operators to help them with asset tracking and fleet management. If power distribution companies can be brought on-board in the future, Smart Grid Control can be introduced by Charging Networks for optimal management of all components involved.
An independent charging station owner may choose to be a part of multiple charging networks that provide an open OCPP based platform. An end-user will need to install the app of the respective charging network and maintain its account with them to use the charging points on the network.
In the more evolved EV markets of the west, there is a dialogue on allowing interoperability between different charging networks to facilitate easy charging access for consumers. To this end, some companies are getting into interoperability agreements and we can expect to see a similar trend in India and the emergence of aggregator services as the ecosystem evolves.
Top Charging Networks in India
(in no particular order)
1. TATA Power
Tata Power’s EV charging network covers 85 charging points (including 42 in Mumbai) across 9 states, according to a report from August 2019. The company has signed MoUs for setting up commercial EV charging stations at HPCL, IOCL, and IGL retail outlets. TATA Motors as also partnered with TATA Power to set up 300 fast-charging stations across Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Mumbai based power utility company offers EV charging solutions for a variety of use-case scenarios e.g. EV fleet solutions, commercial spaces & office charging, as well as public charging. The solution covers power supply, backend power supply infrastructure and customized EV charging solutions.
2. Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)
The world’s largest public energy service company, EESL, is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID. EESL has commissioned 300 AC and 170 DC chargers across India with 65 public charging points currently operational in Delhi NCR, according to an Oct 2019 press release. They have partnered with Urban Local Bodies in Hyderabad, Noida, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chennai, and signed an MoU with BSNL to install 100 public charging stations in Punjab.
3. Magenta Power – ChargeGrid
Magenta Power is an HPCL backed company that focuses on generating, dispensing & managing of Clean Energy. Under their brand name ‘ChargeGrid’, the Mumbai based company has a number of ‘India’s First’ under its belt – India’s First Solar Based Charging Station, India’s First EV enabled Highway, India’s First EV Billing Tariff Meter, India’s first mobile app for EV users with Automated Payment.
ChargeGrid offers EV charging solutions for Residential complexes, Commercial spaces, Malls & Hotels, and has recently tied up with the Lodha Group for making all the Lodha properties EV ready. With over 50 charging station installations spread across 8 cities in India, ChargeGrid claims to have the largest network span of EV charging stations in India.
4. Fortum – Charge & Drive
Fortum is a global energy company with 3000 smart chargers in Nordic countries. Starting with a pilot in October 2017, Fortum has already made 62 DC Fast charging points operational across India. Charge & Drive also offers a hardware-agnostic, cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) solution to Charging Stations Managers that helps them with administration of charging service e.g. see status of charger, control and manage charging (e.g. start, stop, restart), connect and configure chargers, remote monitoring and diagnostics, and price plan administration.
Recently, MG Motors announced a tie-up with Fortum ahead of the launch of its debut EV MG ZS in India. Under the partnership, Fortum will install 50 KW CCS/CHAdeMO DC fast Public Charging Stations across MG’s showrooms in Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.
5. TecSo ChargeZone (P) Ltd – Charge+Zone
Charge+Zone is a homegrown startup from Vadodara with 100+ EV Charging stations in India for electric buses, cars and two-wheelers. At present, they support more than 10 e-mobility solution providers across six cities. Charge+Zone operates on indigenously developed technology and has secured funding from the Govt. of India.
Charge+Zone network is also hardware agnostic (i.e. allows charging equipment manufactured by different companies) and allows any OCPP complaint charging station to come on-board. To the charging station manager, it offers one central platform to manage an individual or a group of charging stations. The company also helps real estate owners install customized and turn-key charging solutions at their premises.
6. Tvesas Electric Solutions (P) Ltd – Volttic
Noida based Volttic has 42 AC and DC charging points in its network at present and plans to add more than 50 DC Fast chargers by March 2020 in order to make EV charging easily accessible and help EV users experience their vehicles without range anxiety. Volttic EV charging network comes with a mobile app for EV drivers and a dashboard for charging station owner that integrates with its cloud-based backend server.
Currently, they are operating in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Bengaluru, serving EV fleet operators who provide employee transport for corporate clients including JP Morgan, HP, McKinsey and Fidelity.
7. NTPC Limited
NTPC has installed 57 charging stations so far and plans to take the number to 400 (across India) by the end of the financial year 2019-20. They have signed MoUs with entities like IOCL, DMRC, HPCL and city administrations of Bhopal, Indore and Navi Mumbai for setting up charging facilities. NTPC is also operating a charging cum swapping station in Faridabad that serves 50 electric 3Ws with 160 batteries in its inventory.
The PSU plans to launch a mobile app soon to integrate its charging stations onto a single charging network and make them easily accessible for the customers.
8. Ather Energy – Ather Grid
Ather Energy was founded in 2013. The company is headquartered in Bengaluru and manufactures India’s first intelligent scooter Ather 450. Ather Grid is a public charging network hosted via a partner network at public places such as offices, malls and restaurants. The network non-Ather vehicles to charge as well, although fast charging is only supported for Ather vehicles.
Ather Grid provides charging at 30+ locations in Bengaluru and 10+ locations in Chennai. They plan to expand the network to 30 cities across India going forward.
9. EV Motors India (P) Ltd – PlugNgo
EV Motors was founded in 2016 and has announced plans to establish 6500 charging stations across the country by end of 2023 in partnership with Delta Electronics and ABB. They launched their first charging outlet under PlugNgo Charging Network in Gurugram in November 2018. EV Motors is based out of Noida.
Source of Cover image – AtherGrid’s Bengaluru map.
Further Reading – MJB&A report on interoperability between charging networks in the US