Eye on EV Charging: India is driven by smaller vehicles, battery swapping draws big interest
The EV conversation in India largely revolves around e2W and e3W companies that are championing e-mobility adoption in India.
On the e2W front, both Ola and Ather have begun rolling out their proprietary chargers at major BPCL pumps as well as residential and commercial complexes across cities.
Interestingly, while Ola Hyperchargers are designed for charging Ola scooters only and are free to use for a limited period, Ather Grid's chargers are compatible with electric vehicles that use a 5A charger, making it easy to charge your scooter no matter what type of vehicle you have. The service, which was free of charge earlier, has changed to a fee-based charging model from August 1, 2023, with charge of Re 1/min plus GST being levied.
Swappable Battery Motorcycle Consortium (SBMC):
Among member companies of Japan's SBMC that are present in India, Honda is currently testing swappable battery tech for India using its Benly electric scooter. The company has also teamed up with Hindustan Petroleum to set up battery-swapping stations across the country.
Similarly, Yamaha and Piaggio are developing electric scooters for India. The fourth lead partner KTM (in collaboration with Bajaj) is planning premium electric offerings based on both scooter and motorcycle platforms.
Bharat Charge Alliance:
Bharat Charge Alliance, an alliance led by Bharat Forge backed start-up Tork Motors aims to democratize low voltage EV charging for 2- and 3-wheelers, but only allows for DC charging.
It is believed that companies like Greaves Electric Mobility, Vayve, MTA, Ador, Exicom, EVQ Point, Solterra, Charge Zone, Coulomb EV have expressed interest in the alliance. However, no formal understanding is in place.
The alliance believes that it will be challenging for any common charging standard/ protocol to succeed unless its members form a critical mass/ share of the market. For this reason, it requires alliance partners to have a common standard for plugs, connectors, and charging protocols.
Electric 3-wheeler maker Mahindra Last Mile Mobility is setting up charging stations at public areas, Mahindra outlets and Mahindra Mitra Technician locations. Omega Seiki Mobility is launching EV charging network under the same OSM eLink which will be open to access by other EVs as well. Piaggio has opted for swappable batteries supported by the Sun mobility network.
Jio-BP, which runs operations under the 'Pulse' brand has partnered with brands like TVS, Hero Electric, MG, Mahindra, Citroen and ride-hailing companies like Uber and Blusmart, along with real estate developers, to expand its charging footprint. Additionally, Jio-BP Pulse is engaged in setting up battery swapping stations for last mile delivery for brands like Zomato, Swiggy, etc.
Tata Power has partnered with Tata Motors, Jaguar-Land Rover, MG and Hyundai to provide charging infrastructure. Chargers installed at the dealerships of these companies will be open to all Tata EV car owners to help boost EV adoption among consumers. Hyundai India has also established manned fast charging stations open for all EV owners along key highway routes in India.
Sun Mobility is a leading player in India's battery swapping segment. The company utilizes interoperable batteries and has partnerships with brands such as Piaggio, Ashok Leyland, Greaves Electric Mobility, Terra Motors, Omega Seiki, Amazon, Zypp and Zyngo. Sun Mobility recently unveiled a compact and portable battery-swapping solution requiring minimal power and real estate.
Battery Smart, another prominent player in the swapping segment, collaborates with local businesses to set up stations and is mainly targeting low-speed e-rickshaws, 'L3' electric vehicle category along with low/ mid speed e2W mainly deployed by last-mile e-commerce delivery and logistics players.
Where Battery Smart is targeting the bottom of the pyramid, RACEnergy is offering the retrofit option. In addition to its battery swapping operations, RACEnergy has also developed retrofit kits that convert existing ICE autorickshaws into electric vehicles compatible with the company's swapping network.
Another player, Bounce Infinity, is actively setting up swap stations at Bharat Petroleum fuel stations, initially starting with Bangalore. Bounce Infinity also has a strategic partnership with Greaves Retail to provide battery-swapping stations for Greaves' Ampere-brand e-scooters.
Also, international swapping player Gogoro is running a pilot with Zypp Electric, a company that offers EV as a service. The pilot is focused on offering battery swapping and smart scooters for last mile delivery.
Lastly, Finland's Glida (earlier known as Fortum) has partnered with Charge+Zone to provide EV users access to the latter's EV charging network.