Private sector yet to charge up on electric vehicle infrastructure


The Centre’s decision to invite proposals for setting up and operating electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across 18 major highways could also be a move to raise such installations but if this kind of trade is independently viable is yet to be established.

A senior executive in one of the crucial auto fuel retailing companies said setting up e-charging stations independently was once not viable at this juncture and battery swapping with standardisation was once a better option.

While those considering foray into the e-charging trade feel that the number of EVs running on the Road do not supply adequate numbers to put up charging stations, the manufacturers see lack of such stations as a dampener for sale of these low-emission automobiles. “The market in one of the crucial biggest EV market Delhi, for example, is still dominated by low-end e-rickshaws and cluster buses that aren’t eager on charging at such stations,” said the executive quoted above.

Though the state and city governments have made provisions of charging points mandatory in new buildings, it is currently only public sector companies, such as the NTPC and Energy Efficiency Products and services (EESL), and those running EV service that have put up charging infrastructure.

Private sector companies, such as Tata Power, are also in the trade but have so far confined themselves to supply EV charging facilities at their group outlets. Tata Power, which retails power in one licence area in Delhi, had signed an agreement for putting up charging points at Indraprastha Gas (IGL) outlets but the tie-up remained confined to one outlet. This, too, did not succeed.

Reliance Industries (RIL), which had declared its plan to department out into sustainable energy solutions, including e-charging and batteries, three years back in partnership with global giant BP, has not even taken baby steps in this direction. For them, this trade is more an attempt to department out into the trade of sustainability than establishing it as an actual ecocnomic vertical.

It’s the EV producers and users that are taking the initiative to establish charging infrastructure. Tata Motors, for example, through Tata Power’s EZ Charge is ensuring that the buyers of its EVs get charging facilities. Both Tata Motors and MG Motor even help their customers put up compatible charging points at home.

There are also those like EV ride-hailing service provider BluSmart, which has 160 fast-charging points across six operational hubs in Gurugram and Delhi. This, its co-founder Punit Goyal said, was once the highest number of fast-charging stations any company has in India. “It provides committed and seamless charging for BluSmart’s fleet of 366 electric cars across Delhi and Gurugram.

BluSmart Charge will scale to 250 fast-charging stations by December as two more hubs are under construction by then. This will be further scaled to over 500 in 2021, across Gurugram, Delhi, and Noida,” said Goyal. Every BluSmart EV Charging Hub has a capacity of 150 to 250 electric cars to charge.

The government earlier this month invited organisations to build and function EV charging infrastructure on 18 major highways. Under the second one phase of FAME India scheme, the government wants to fortify the development of EV charging infrastructure by extending capital grants to organisations for promoting the usage of EV. This could help in mitigating trade risks.

Private sector interest is, alternatively, more visible on the technology side. Multinationals such as ABB, Fortum, and Schneider are providing technology for e-charging stations. These are Cloud-based technologies that link apps to charging points, giving consumers an idea approximately availability of free spots.

Technology may be the space where state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals is making an attempt to gain a foothold. In March 2019, it announced the setting up of the first solar-based electric vehicle charger at Sonipat on the Delhi-Chandigarh Highway.

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