DHI published Bharat Standards for EV charging in 2017 in a bid to standardise the charging protocols and facilitate interoperability between chargers and vehicles supplied by different OEMs. These standards, as mentioned below, cater to electric vehicles with a battery voltage of less than 100 volts:
1. Bharat Charger AC-001 (15A, 3.3kW, IEC 60309 connector)
2. Bharat Charger DC-001 (200A, 15kW, GB/T 20234 connector)
Bharat standards are basic standards that can be used to charge entry-level electric cars, namely TATA Tigor and Mahindra e-Verito at present. For cars with more evolved powertrains and high voltage batteries, India is adopting globally popular charging standards CCS and CHAdeMO. Majority of the electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers in India are charged using a regular 15 Amp socket.
Debate around DC-001
Charging guidelines issued by Ministry of Power in December 2018 mandated the installation of DC-001 (i.e. based on GB/T standard) charger for setting up Public Charging Infrastructure. In the past two years, many government and private agencies have installed Bharat DC-001 chargers expecting that automakers will follow the standard. EESL (represents the PSUs under Power Ministry) alone announced plans to take its number of public DC-001 chargers to 300 in Delhi-NCR by the end of FY 2019-20, in addition to more than a hundred captive DC-001 chargers installed in Delhi alone. A quick search on IndiaMart tells that a DC-001 – 15KW charger can cost approximately between INR 2,50,000 to INR 275,000 per system.
Among all the developments in the EV space, there has been a buzz within the Indian Charging Industry that DC-001 is going to be redundant soon and may turn out to be an utter waste of public resources.
Why do some believe that DC-001 is heading to redundancy?
The argument that DC-001 is headed for redundancy primarily rests on the fact that the upcoming electric cars in India are expected to have evolved powertrains with high voltages. These electric cars will adhere to global charging standards CCS and CHAdeMo. This position is supported by the fact that TATA Motors that recently announced a new electric powertrain technology Ziptron specifically for Indian ecosystem plans to install 30-50 kW DC CCS2 standards charging stations in the country to build the infrastructure for future electric cars. Hyundai Kona adheres to CCS, and of other electric cars that are expected to launch in India soon, MG eZS and Audi e-tron also come with a CCS fast-charge port. This makes the number of future use-cases for DC001 application appear very slim. Many believe that Bharat chargers are only being installed in the country because of government push rather market demand by OEMs.
Can DC-001 stay relevant down the years?
The good news is that the revised charging guidelines published on 1st Oct 2019 remove any restrictions on the type or number of chargers, providing flexibility to PCS businesses to choose charger types they deem fit. DHI is expected to issue revised tenders to accommodate for the revision in the charging guidelines.
While the argument against making DC-001 mandatory was completely valid, deriving a conclusion that Bharat Standard is headed to oblivion in a couple of years might be misplaced. DC-001 is designed to charge low-cost, entry-level powertrains. As the cars are upgraded to use high voltage batteries, the vehicles used for intra-city travel such as three-wheelers or the LCVs might be evolved to use this standard. During our research on the topic, we found that while some in the industry believed that charge point operators may suffer losses since not many cars will adhere to DC-001 in future, some also thought that potentially a number of vehicles in the ecosystem can be evolved to make good use of DC-001. The business of running a PCS is essentially a long term game. According to Mr Akshaye Barbuddhe – Business Head for E-Mobility Infrastructure at Delta Electronics, cargo vehicles like Mahindra e-supro and other LCVs up to 800 kgs that have low range requirements can be adapted to use DC-001 charger for quick charging.
While not much is known about Maruti e-Wagon R at the moment, Mahindra’s e-KUV 100 might adhere to DC-001 as per industry sources. Bharat Standard DC-001 with rated voltage of 48V can be used to charge advanced two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Recently launched Tork charging station adheres to Bharat standards and can charge any EV that features a GB/T plug.
It can not be denied that government policy has led to some hasty installation of DC-001 especially in Delhi NCR at public expense. However, the standard can still be redeemed if entry-level EVs from categories other than passenger cars can use it in the future. Going forward, the focus should be on strategic placement of the chargers according to their application and installation of any type of chargers should be governed by market forces. Amendment in charging guidelines is a welcome step in this direction.
We would like to thank Mr Wybren van der Vaart – Co-founder & CEO at BrightBlu and Mr Sunny Pandey from Addawatt Power Solutions for their inputs on the subject.
To see what experts in the field are saying about DC-001 debate – follow this link: