Ola Puts Light on Battery Swapping Technology In India
By: Siya Bhatia
Ola Mobility Institute (OMI), a policy research and social innovation unit of ride-hailing platform Ola, pitches for battery swapping technology to “be actively treated as a promising solution to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in India, especially for the two- and three-wheeler segments.” The Institute organised a policy dialogue GREENLIGHT on the issue. The discussion on the potential of ‘Battery Swapping’ technology to enable early scale in India’s ambitions for rolling out EVs, brought together market leaders to discuss and deliberate its market potential.
The discussion came to an agreement and collectively endorsed India’s first shared resolution on Battery Swapping.
According to a report by Reuters, ‘India is already planning to mandate cab-hailing companies like Ola and Uber to convert 40 percent of their fleet of vehicles to electric by April 2026.’ And as India is also aiming to become 100% e-vehicle nation by 2030, battery swapping technology could play a key role in boosting the drive.
With battery swapping, the cost of the zero emission vehicles could drop significantly in India and they would become more affordable.
In addition, it will offer various benefits to the customers:
Mimics the experience of existing fuel pumps
Battery swapping is swift and convenient. It can take the same amount or less time as existing fuel pumps;
Eliminates wait time for charging
Battery swapping drastically reduces wait time through its under-3 minute interchange of batteries vs. 1.5-2 hrs minimum for charging solution, improving utilization characteristics of vehicles.
Increases run-time and improves remunerative opportunities for shared e-mobility drivers: Battery swapping can boost driver earnings. Vehicles using advanced batteries through swapping have been shown to run 25% longer compared to those conventional charging and 50% more compared to Lead-Acid battery-based vehicles;
Reduces the upfront cost of EVs and improves demand:
It is critical to bring down the cost of EVs to drive adoption. By separating the vehicle from the battery (which constitutes 30-50% of the total cost of an EV), the upfront cost of the EV comes down to levels competitive to or below ICE counterparts, enabling higher demand;
Improves battery life and performance:
Battery Swapping Operators (BSOs) business models may provide batteries-as-a-service. These players are incentivized to leverage advanced control strategy for battery charging/discharge and thermal management, developing an entire industry that maximizes the life and usage of battery cells in Indian and similar market operating conditions. The continuous monitoring and assessment by BSOs extend the usable life of batteries, improve outcomes for customers, and reduces the burden of mediocre products in the market.
Allows for innovation, and helps create superior, durable, and long-lasting vehicles and batteries:
The incentive to manufacture low-cost EVs for a price-sensitive market has resulted in the flooding of the markets by low-performance integrated battery-operated vehicles (EVs fitted with batteries). This compromises the quality of batteries and drivetrains, promoting short-life and substandard technologies. Separating the battery, which constitutes 30-50% of the total cost of EVs, from the vehicle, thus enabled by swapping, allows OEMs relieve customer price pressure and improve the quality of both vehicles and batteries;
Lowers charging/swapping fee on account of increased productivity of land:
Park-and-charge solutions demand land usage. This results in higher fees for the end user. Swapping requires a fraction of the real estate to serve the same number of vehicles, and may also optimize other resources such as manpower.