A safe, reliable, affordable and accessible charging Infrastructure could be termed as greatest enabler to EV adoption. This article talks about EV Charging Standards in India. We discuss the types of charging equipment and protocols, basics of EV charging and the current state of charging infrastructure in India.
Let’s start with some basic terminology with respect to EV charging:
EVSE – ‘Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment’ refers to the charging equipment that safely connects an electric vehicle to a mains electrical supply. EVSEs may also offer authentication, metering, payment services, and remote monitoring. Bureau of India Standards (BIS) has published standard IS:17017 that covers general requirements and safety norms for EVSEs.
Charging Protocol – Charging Protocols define the type of Connector that goes into vehicle inlet, max power and voltage for the connection, communication protocols, and type of the communication link.
CMS – Central Management System – A cloud-based backend system managed by the company operating the charging station. The EVSE communicates with the CMS to manage user authorisation, billing and rate of charging. The CMS will also enable user-facing apps to help end-users find nearest charging stations, reserve a charging slot and pay.
AC Charging and DC Charging
Vehicle batteries are always charged by DC.
In case of AC Charging, alternating current is supplied to vehicle’s onboard charger that converts AC into DC – that is in turn used to charge the vehicle battery. Whereas, a DC EVSE converts the mains AC into DC within the charge point and supplies DC to the vehicle battery directly.
Home chargers are generally used with a 230V/15A single phase plug (the same plug we use for high load household appliances such as air-conditioners) that delivers up to 2.5kW of output power. Clearly, home charging is a type of AC charging. As of now, there is no special policy or standard defined for at-home EV charging. The amount of electricity consumed is added to home-metering. However, Bharat EV specifications recommend the installation of a Residual Current Circuit Breaker to ensure safety and using an IEC 60309 Industrial connector.
Amount of time taken to charge an EV depends on the rate of charging and the amount of charge required (depends on the battery’s usable capacity). Home charging can charge electric scooters in 2-3 hours, and economy electric cars in 6-7 hours.
Public EV Charging Standards – India
Public Charging refers to outside-home charging, that is a necessary complement to home charging. This article focusses on Public Charging only. The standardisation of public charging infrastructure enables interoperability between charging stations and EVs offered by different automakers.
For low voltage EVs (< 120V), IS:17017 recognises DHI (Department of Heavy Industry) approved Bharat Charger Specifications, namely:
1. For AC Charging: Bharat EV Charger AC001
2. For DC Charging: Bharat EV Charger DC001
Note – As there is no official definition of slow, fast, rapid, super-fast charging, these terms can lead to confusion. Hence, Bharat EV specs classify charging options based on the quantifiable criterion of power rating.
Public AC Charging Standard – AC 001
AC001 can deliver maximum 15A charging current at 3.3 kW power to three vehicles simultaneously. Type of each output is 230V single-phase AC.
However, as mentioned earlier, AC EVSEs supply to the vehicle’s onboard chargers. As both AC-001 and onboard charger have their own power ratings, the rate of charging the vehicle will be equal to the lower of the two values. In India, as onboard chargers for 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers have max power ratings up to 2.5 kW to 3 kW.
AC 001 is essentially low power charging, so there is no communication protocol defined for EV-EVSE communication. Two-way communication between EVSE and the CMS follows an international standard – Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) over the internet.
Public DC Charging Standard – DC 001
DC-001 can deliver maximum 200A charging current at 15 kW power, directly to the vehicle’s battery. Type of output is DC 48V/60V/72V depending on vehicle battery configuration.
DC-001 specifies OCPP protocol for EVSE-CMS communication and uses custom GB/T for EV-EVSE communication over CAN mode. Existing vehicles in India use CAN protocol for internal communication, hence the same was selected for communication between EVSE and EV’s Battery Management System. DHI added specific commands to GB/T-27930 to make the standard as Bharat Charger DC-001 Specs.
Note – When DHI announced the DC 001 standard in 2017, they specified a 2nd output for 2W charging at 3.3kW. However, the connector and EV-EVSE communication protocol for 2nd output has not been specified till date.
For current debate around relevance of DC-001, visit The Future of DC-001.
Charging for High Voltage EVs
Bharat Charges can be used to charge all 2W, 3W as well as TATA and Mahindra electric cars available in India. However, India is yet to develop own EV Charging standards for high voltage charging technology. The IS:17017-1 published by BIS in August 2018 recommends globally popular CCS-2 (Combined Charging System) and CHAdeMO protocols for this purpose. The CHAdeMO connector works with most Asian made vehicles, while CCS connector works with most European and American made vehicles.
Recent amendments in the charging guidelines allow any AC or DC charger that complies with Standards AIS 138 – 1, and AIS 138 – 2 respectively. So, CHAdeMO, CCS-2, Type 2 AC and the Bharat Chargers will all co-exist in India.
Premium cars with high battery capacity (30 kWh and upwards) and buses will be fast charged using high voltage charging technologies. According to a Hindu Businessline report, the government will push to have Bharat Standard, CHAdeMO and CCS charging points at all public stations.
Future electric vehicles will need higher power and will have batteries capable of fast charging with DC outputs of 400V and more. Gradually, AC-001 and DC-001 will have to make way for higher voltage and power level EVSEs.
Setting up a Public Charging Station (PCS)
Public Charging Stations will be considered as a point for sale of service where some value addition is also provided through the premises of charging station operator. Setting up of a PCS is a de-licensed business activity. One needs to go through the process of applying for connection and obtain necessary permissions by ensuring conformance to protocols, technical and performance standards. The Ministry of Power (MoP) issued a revised guidelines and standards for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles on Oct 1, 2019, specifying the minimum requirement and guidelines for EV public charging stations.
Government of India has been taking measures to strengthen the EV infrastructure through various initiatives. The GST rate on chargers and EV charging stations has been reduced from 18% to 5%. Also, under FAME II, Rs 1,000 crore was for incentivising setting up of 2,700 charging stations – one charging station every 3 km in cities and every 25 km on both sides of highways. In a follow-up to that, Government invited bids for setting up 1,000 EV charging stations with 6000 charging points in Jun 2019 and published a revised tender on 28th Aug with a 15/09/19 deadline for submission. These charging stations could be established for commercial and non-commercial use at municipal parking lots, petrol stations, streets, malls, a government office complex, government hospitals and educational institutions or semi-restricted premises (e.g. cab aggregators fleet charging).
EV Charging Station Solution Providers in India
You can access the full list here. We also see a pattern that the automakers launching the products are themselves setting up the charging infrastructure. According to a Live Mint report, Tata Motors has partnered with Tata Power to set up 300 fast-charging stations for electric vehicles across Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad by end FY20. These charging stations that will adhere to Bharat Standard (DC-001, 15 kW) for the initial 50 chargers and also install 30-50 kW DC CCS2 standard. Similarly, MG has partnered with Delta electronics and Fortum to install charging stations ahead of their eZS car launch in 2020. In 2W segment, Revolt Motors have set up battery switching centres and Ather is creating a network of charge points under AtherGrid.
For information on Battery Swapping, visit Battery Swapping – A Pragmatic Complement To EV Charging
Last updated: May 4, 2020
Useful links for further reading :
- DHI Report
- Blog by IIT Madras Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala
- BeeIndia Technical Study on Charging Infrastructure