By Srihari Mulgund
Charging infrastructure and the charging time of an electric vehicle (EV) are two of the largest limitations to their mass adoption in India. In an attempt to tackle these challenges and accelerate the transition to inexperienced mobility, the Union Authorities is pushing battery swapping as a workable choice, primarily for the two and three-wheeler segments, as their common battery sizing is lesser than that of four-wheelers and business autos.
The standard assemble of battery swapping is the very same as owning a unit fitted with batteries for continual use, this sort of as a distant manage, rather of charging it each individual time, like a cellular cellular phone. The only variance is that for EVs, the customer will have to swap the discharged battery for a charged 1 at a swap station.
The rationale in pushing this possibility is to de-hyperlink the battery price tag from the EV charge and limit recharging time. Given that the battery accounts for virtually 30%-40% of an EV’s charge, this coverage could assist realize cost parity among EVs and ICE autos.
Although the information of the battery swapping policy declared by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Funds 2022 are envisioned to be obtainable in the up coming a few months, the intentions of the Govt are to:
a) Motivate (potentially by way of incentives) the personal sector to acquire Battery-as-a-Provider (BaaS) methods, and
b) Encourage battery interoperability.
Issues in battery swapping
For battery swapping to be productive in India, the pursuing challenges ought to be addressed:
Interoperability: At present, battery packs in EVs are not standardized. Hence, they are incompatible with the varied vehicle segments, models and styles. Guaranteeing battery compliance with unique automobile designs and standardizing the battery packs and connectors will enjoy a vital part. On the software entrance, setting up a typical communication protocol between the battery management procedure (BMS) and the motor controller will be crucial for all round performance. In addition, carrying out extensive product or service validations will aid improve the general performance and basic safety of battery packs.
Battery inventory: For just about every battery in the car, there requirements to be a backup battery. The inventory can be as higher as 40%-50% at the start of operations but can be reduced to 10% -15% by way of productive optimization. Further inventory will be necessary in the course of unique operational scenarios these as need peaking and servicing of on-area batteries.
Captive demand from customers: Apart from batteries and inventory, battery swapping necessitates investment decision into true estate and tools. The swapping stations need to be positioned at primary spots that are very easily accessible to customers, attracting superior rental prices. Staying a Capex-intensive enterprise, asset utilization results in being key for lengthy-time period sustainability.
Hence, demand development for BaaS is critical, which can be resolved by:
1.Confirming minimal potential utilization through captive demand (e.g., fleets, vertical integration) and
2.Forging upfront relationships with recognized automobile makers.
Other difficulties connected with battery swapping include:
a) Quicker charging charges (battery billed in a lot less than 2 hrs) tend to produce larger amounts of warmth, thus requiring an Aircon system to manage the battery temperatures at the best possible degree (~25DegC). The requirement for an Aircon is even more fuelled by better regular ambient temperatures of ~35DegC in India.
b) BaaS operators require to make certain a uniform variety per swap for consumers, irrespective of the age of the battery pack, which can be obtained by way of wise software program features.
c) Lithium batteries are really flammable, and the recent occasions of car battery fires have only aggravated this concern. The chance exacerbates when many battery packs are currently being taken care of in a single place at the swap station, and in an not likely occasion of a fire thanks to terrible techniques, an overall region in a dense city location will be exposed.
Is battery swapping a very long-sighted decision?
When battery swapping is predicted to stay appealing for the uptake of EVs in the medium expression, its relevance will be evaluated in the very long phrase.
When the battery engineering enhances, the energy density is probable to get greater and more capability can be packed into the battery, resulting in a longer selection for each charge. This, coupled with diminished charging periods, will be a likely obstacle for BaaS enterprises.
Having said that, extremely-fast charging comes with worries like:
1.Need to have for added cooling arrangements in a motor vehicle, which really should be a given in situation of battery swapping
2.Want for Quality A battery cells to empower rapidly charging. Reduced-cost Grade B cells are well-liked among Indian brands now and
3.Infrastructural necessities like more substantial parking areas as speedy charging require parking the vehicles for at least 30 minutes, although battery swapping can take fewer than 5 minutes.
Although battery swapping will permit the mass adoption of 2 and 3-wheeler EVs, it could not be the correct option for passenger and professional vehicles. The huge weight of the lithium-ion battery pack would make swapping harder, if not unattainable. In addition, the infrastructure necessary to swap greater, heavier battery packs, such as robotics arms, and so on., will be significantly more complicated and high-priced. At EY-Parthenon, we at this time feel that passenger automobiles will gravitate towards quick/extremely-rapid charging. In distinction, large business motor vehicles, in the medium term, will most likely go down the route of reduced carbon gas choices this sort of as hydrogen.
The success of the BaaS will rely on devising successful means to handle the problems mentioned over. As these problems are interrelated, acquiring the ideal stability as a result of technologies and disruptive organization models is the have to have of the hour.
(Disclaimer: Srihari Mulgund is Spouse at EY Parthenon (Direct – Electric Car or truck Value Chain). Views are private.)
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