For any person thinking of buying an electric vehicle (EV) or already owns one, range anxiety of the vehicle battery is a real world challenge.
In India, the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is still being developed. Charging stations across the country are growing, but for EV owners, planning a long trip is cumbersome because they know that access to charging stations will be limited.
But one of the biggest solutions to overcoming this challenge is - battery swapping.
What is Battery Swapping?
Battery swapping or battery-as-a-service allows EV owners to replace the discharged batteries with charged ones at the swap stations. When the battery is discharged, the owner can change it with a fully charged one.
This addresses the problem of setting up charging stations and also reduces range anxiety of drivers. Further, battery leasing can help EV owners save on the expense of buying a new battery.
The service is less time consuming and takes only a few minutes compared to charging at a battery station which could take hours. It also requires minimum infrastructure.
Government promoting battery swapping
During her budget speech earlier this year, India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government would introduce a battery swapping policy and interoperability standards.
Under its new policy, the government will also encourage private players to develop sustainable and innovative business models for battery swapping or ‘Battery or Energy as a Service’. “This will improve efficiency in the EV ecosystem,” the finance minister had said while presenting the Union Budget 2022-23.The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has identified about 700 sites along the Golden Quadrilateral Highway, east-west and north-south corridors and greenfield expressways, to develop wayside centres of charging points for EVs.
Under the Delhi government’s new EV policy, setting up of battery swapping infrastructure is also being scaled up. The Delhi government, on completion of two years of its e-vehicle policy, last month, released a three-year action plan to create a network of charging and battery swapping stations. The battery swapping infrastructure will also take into account key concerns around EV battery safety, customer experience, and the overall EV manufacturers’ business interests.
How does battery swapping work?
This is similar to the process of LPG cylinders, which Indians are familiar with.
Any EV owner can visit an outlet of the energy operator and lease charged batteries when it drains out and pay for the electricity consumed.
The energy operator purchases batteries in bulk and sets up charging stations to charge discharged batteries.
The time taken to swap a battery is similar to refilling theinternal combustion engine ( ICE) vehicle with fuel. However, ICE vehicles can be refuelled at any petrol pump, while an EV owner will have to enter into a pact with a specific energy operator to swap batteries and visit their outlets each time.
Under the new policy of the government, the swapping stations need to be made accessible for EV owners.