First & Last Mile Mobility Conclave: Battery swapping is a great option for a price conscious country like India

As part of an expert technical session, Atul Arya, Head – Energy System Division, Panasonic India begin his presentation talking about the journey of the Japanese company in the field of batteries right from the days of Excel Dry Battery powering a bicycle lamp to enabling space critical missions.

The world is slowly taking into cognisance of the importance of transitioning from non-renewable energy to renewable and green energy sources. The topic is of much relevance today as compared to a few decades ago, especially in the automotive industry as stakeholders look to move from fossil energy sources to electric, where batteries are increasingly becoming a key part of the transition. 

One of the most prominent sources being Lithium-ion battery. As part of an expert technical session, Atul Arya, Head – Energy System Division, Panasonic India begin his presentation talking about the journey of the Japanese company in the field of batteries right from the days of Excel Dry Battery powering a bicycle lamp to enabling space critical missions. 

“We entered the lithium-ion batteries space in the 1960s. In 1990s we started working with laptops and various other kind of batteries. We have been continuously innovating and Panasonic is one of the largest suppliers of batteries globally in the electric mobility space. The endeavour of the company has been to provide the longest lives of the batteries,” begin Arya.

He explained how the company is focussing on providing safe batteries for various application right from the smallest of devices like remote control, electric bicycles, power tools to construction equipment’s, electric vehicles and data centres among others. 

“In India we have been providing batteries to almost all EV manufacturers. We ensure 

that there is no trouble as far as energy supply is concerned,” added Arya.

He explained that the six key priorities for any battery company that despite the importance of safety in the lithium-ion cell, the topic has come into the forefront now especially given the EV fire related incidents in the country. 

“We are very proud to say that in spite of selling billions of cells and still continuing to do that, 

we are always away from such incidents. And this comes through rigorous design and manufacturing 

expertise. The second most priority for lithium-ion battery should always be reliability and of course it should be cost competitive. But on the other hand, typically most people try to put cost first and then comes the safety and reliability” remarks Arya.

over

According to him, battery makers need to ensure and design the battery packs keeping in mind factors like over-charging, high-temperature, physical damage, internal short-circuits and over currents among others. “These are the conditions which essentially can happen to any kind of battery or cell. However, it is up to the manufacturers of the cells and the batteries to ensure 

that whenever there is an overcharge or higher temperature, physical damage, it should be immediately detected. And the cell or the battery must be protected from going beyond that situation.”

Nilesh Wadhwa, Principal Correspondent, Financial Express moderating session asked Arya his views on the argument between having a common battery standard / modular battery approach or let OEMs have their own USP and standards. He said, “I am sure this will never be settled perhaps unless we really walk that path. I guess both have their own place.”

He mentioned that the e-mobility industry worldwide is growing faster than anyone could have ever anticipated. On the other hand the cost of batteries has also not come down as much as one would have liked. “Everybody is moving to electric including countries like India and China. There is extremely high demand of batteries, also puts a lot of pressure on the supply chain. You can’t continuously keep mining lithium and cobalt and variety of other metals which were not required so much earlier. Now they are required in quantities which nobody imagined. So, in that sense uh swapping is a great option as it takes away the cost of battery being bundled with the cost of 

vehicles especially in the country like ours where we put a lot of emphasis on the upfront cost. We take pride in being price conscious.”

“But then what happens is that in order to be price conscious we actually end up buying a low-quality stuff, which basically is again not the right thing to do. It puts a lot of question mark on the overall industry’s health. Therefore to maintain the right kind of technical standards I guess swapping is a great solution what it does is it really takes away the cost of the battery and it brings in the element of probably what we can call as Battery as a Service (BaaS),” explained Arya.

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