Charge-up, an EV battery swapping network provider, has announced that it will set up 3,000 EN battery swapping stations by 2024, servicing more than 2,00,000 EVs. The core objective of Charge-up, the company states, is to create the largest distribution network for electric two- and three-wheelers. About 80% of the electric vehicles in India today are e-rickshaws. They are the most affordable and cheaper means of clean transportation. There are over 2.4 million such vehicles in the country, with 20% CAGR Y-O-Y, transporting about 140 million people each day.
The company underlines the problems these rickshaws have, such as the 10 hours required to charge the battery. The current battery technology offers six months of life with limited kilometres. This results in the operations being limited from 80 km to 90 km a day and a maximum earning potential of around Rs 850 for an average e-rickshaw driver. Further, the drivers need to spend a lot of money on buying new/spare batteries which makes it a major challenge for them. This leads to default in payment of EMIs for their vehicles as well.
This is where Charge-up saw the potential for growth through the simple solution of Battery as a Service (BAAS). The company enables the e-rickshaw drivers to join the service without any upfront costs. All they need to do is to subscribe to a daily battery rental plan. This allows them to visit the swapping station as many as 2-3 times a day and they are able to swap the discharged batteries with fully charged batteries provided by Charge-up. Through this practice, the company has helped the drivers increase their average earnings from Rs 850 to Rs 1800, and instead of 80-90 km a day, they are now able to cover a range of up to 160 km.
The entire battery swapping process takes just about 2 minutes and gives great mobility to the e-rickshaw drivers. The Lithium-ion batteries provided by Charge-up weigh less than 30 kg which makes them much easier to handle.
Compared to a conventional vehicle where the battery is fixed and all expenses are borne by the rickshaw owner, the cost of ownership of a vehicle where the battery can be swapped is much lower. The rickshaw owner has to pay only Rs 150 per swap for an 80 km run which is less than Rs 2 a km. Charge-up provides advanced technical support to sustain the committed distance and battery life cycles.
From 120 swaps a month at inception, the company is currently handling over 3,000 a month through its station in Delhi/NCR. Charge-up has so far been self- funded and is now ready to move to the next level with plans to take the monthly swap count to over 3,00,000 a month by March 2022 and set up 3,000 swapping hubs by 2024, servicing more than 2,00,000 Evs. It aims to create a network of battery swapping stations with a charging station every 2 km in a city like Delhi.
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