Standardising charging infrastructure critical for EV adoption in India

India’s EV charging infrastructure is still at a very nascent stage and is yet to catch up to meet the country’s growing requirements. A robust policy framework and right implementation will define the success of EVs adoption in the country.

By:Published: January 28, 2020 5:36:48 PM
Image for representational purposes only

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the need of the hour, especially considering the deteriorating air quality in cities across India. The EV sector is expected to generate huge employment opportunities while ensuring a clean environment-friendly mobility system in the future. However, there are multiple factors that are going to define the adoption of EVs. At the heart of a robust EV ecosystem lies a well-defined charging infrastructure, a critical requirement to ensure the adoption of EVs in India. Unfortunately, India’s EV charging infrastructure is still at a very nascent stage and is yet to catch up to meet the country’s growing requirements. A robust policy framework and right implementation will define the success of EVs adoption in the country.

Electric mobility has been one of the key focus areas for governments at the centre as well as in states. In 2019, the Union Cabinet notified the FAME II scheme which aims to further accelerate the government of India’s commitment to a clean mobility future. FAME II intends to catalyse the market for faster adoption of EVs to ensure durable economic growth and global competitiveness for India’s automotive industry. Meanwhile, several states such as Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra among many others, have also introduced suitable policy frameworks to promote electric vehicles.

Where in lies the challenge?

In order to ensure large scale adoption of EVs, there are a number of challenges that need to be addressed, with the biggest one being set up the vast infrastructure of charging stations, which is basically the fuel availability network for EV owners. We also need to keep in mind that charging an EV takes much longer than fuelling up an internal combustion engine-based vehicle, so the number and availability of charging stations can make a huge impact on the practical functionality of EVs. Thus, a well-laid out public charging infrastructure becomes a key policy choice.

The standardisation of EV charging infrastructure is key to a successful transition towards electric vehicles. As of now, there are three primary global standards being followed for setting up charging stations.

Charge De Move by Japan, also called CHAdeMO, is a DC standard that has been developed by Japanese automotive majors like Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi almost 10 years back. It is a smart grid-ready standard which is also compatible with any local or optional functions beyond charging.

Combined Charging System or CCS started as a collaboration between the US-based SAE and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. The charging standard is extremely popular in Europe and the US with around 7,000 CCS charging points worldwide; more than half being in Europe.

Guobiao (GB/T) charging standard which was issued by the Standardization Administration of China is also becoming popular. The Chinese authorities are encouraging both domestic as well as international stakeholders to align with the Guobiao standard plugs and connectors, including both AC as well as DC charging points. The Chinese government has also framed regulations to accelerate the construction of charging points while also facilitating interoperability.

Companies looking to set up charging infrastructure in India are required to get a licence from the concerned authorities to avail of these standards which makes it relatively expensive. Thus, in line with FAME II rules, the Bureau of Indian Standards and Department of Science and Technology are working towards standardisation of charging infrastructure, which can help bring down the cost of setting up EV charging stations.

There are already discussions happening in the industry around the adoption of the Japanese CHAdeMO, European Combined Charging System (CCS) and the Indian Bharat Standard. While the latest entrant, Bharat Standard is the most economical of all the standards, it is more appropriate for two and three-wheelers since it’s a low voltage charging technology.

Also read: Key hurdles in electric car adoption in fleets and how to overcome them

Turning the EV dream into reality

The lack of standardisation has emerged as one of the biggest infrastructural challenges for setting up EV charging stations as standardisation enables the charging of any vehicle at any charging station across the country.

EVs have emerged as one of the core focus areas for governments in order to tackle challenges like rising air pollution. The government is bringing in policies to promote the adoption of electric vehicles through tools like subsidies, but it is equally important to promote standardisation as it can unlock a whole new world of opportunities for electric vehicle adoption in the country.

It is important to understand that adoption of electric vehicles won’t really pick up at a mass scale with the scattered public charging network prevalent currently and we also understand the government of India’s push to have the three technologies but in the long run convergence on a single standard holds the key to mass-level adoption. The longer this transition is drawn out, the more consumers as well as EV adoption rates — are likely to suffer. We need a single fast charging standard in India to take electric mobility to every nook and corner of the country. At NXP, we are working to make electric vehicles a viable option for governments across the globe.

Author: Sanjay Gupta, Vice President & India Country Manager – NXP Semiconductors

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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