On Electric Vehicle adoption in India: The right push 

Context: Recently, the NITI Aayog released a draft battery-swapping policy pertaining to two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and e-rickshaws. The draft policy aims to address some key concerns within the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem 

What is the objective of the draft policy?

It will promote adoption of EV. It would lower dependencies on fossil fuels and reduce the carbon footprint. It can help India reduce its coal-based thermal generation.  

What are the issues with EV technology? 

There are safety concerns.

These vehicles catch fire due to short-circuits, battery overheating due to the weather, high-stress driving, or even the charging of an already heated unit.  

There are issues of cost.

If batteries are made smaller to enable an easier swapping ecosystem. This would mean changes in vehicle design. It may increase cost.  

There are issues of availability of space and power.

The charging and swapping stations need places to be set up in cities. 

What have been suggested in the draft policy? 

It suggests adoption of advanced chemistry cell (ACC) batteries of uniform types for smaller vehicles. 

The battery-swapping system based on a battery-as-a-service (BAAS) model can be adopted, which will reduce the upfront cost of EV (Without installed battery). It would involve charging a subscription. The user can swap an exhausted battery for a freshly charged unit at the EV charging stations. 

– Further, a battery swap for a small vehicle would take a few minutes as opposed to a recharge. It will reduce “range anxiety” — the fear of running out of power on the road.  

The regulatory standards for batteries must improve to eliminate chances of such fires 

The police and fire brigade personnel have to be retrained and equipped to deal with the safety concerns.  

The production-linked incentive scheme favouring ACC manufacturing, and several firms, should continue. 

The public must be reassured that such incidents will not keep occurring, to ensure a widespread EV uptake.  

There has to be a  rapid roll-out of a widespread network of charging and swapping stations.  

The authorities may offer land in convenient spots for stations, and also lower tariffs for power used uniquely for EVs. Vast amounts of space are not required for swapping stations 

There should be standardisation of the size and specifications of the battery to ensure interoperability 

Source: The post is based on an article “The right push published in the Business Standard on 24th April 2022. 

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