Budget 2022: Developing EV infrastructure

With increasing climate consciousness and the need to go green, a giant wave of electric vehicles and related technology can be seen globally and in India. India is the world's fifth-largest automobile market and constantly develops with the latest technology. In India, currently, there are 320 million vehicles on the road, out of which more than 97 per cent are ICE vehicles. In the Financial Year (FY) 2020-21, passenger vehicle sales stood at 28 lakh units, and out of them, only 5,900 units were electric. While the two-wheeler vehicles sales were 152 lakhs units out of which only 1.41 lakh units were electric. As the statistics show, EV adoption has been slow in India mainly due to a lack of infrastructure around the EV space, which the government is actively looking to resolve.

With the Indian demographic wanting to shift to electric vehicles, a growing need to develop the infrastructure was seen. But due to hindrances like the confinement of space in urban areas for the stations to be set up, the adaption has been slow. The finance minister addressed this issue during her budget speech. Electric vehicles require a longer time for charging and have the problem of needing different types of chargers. Various EV makers in the country use different types of chargers in their vehicles because of the lack of standardization in the industry; this further made it difficult for the public charging stations to cater to the needs of the people. To solve all of this, the budget has come up with a battery swapping policy that will help overhaul the entire charging infrastructure and reduce the burden on the public charging stations. As part of the battery swapping policy, the government will also set up industry standards to enable easy swapping and interoperability of batteries.

Various EV makers have widely applauded this policy in the country. They feel this will lead to greater adaptability of EVs in the passenger segment and in the commercial and public vehicle segment. The viability of EVs in the public vehicle segment has been slow because of the long waiting time for charging, which reduced their plying time and thus was not economically feasible. This will also boost EV adoption in the last-mile delivery space, where time constraints make instant battery swapping more viable than charging the existing battery.

The government is also planning to set up special mobility zones wherein fossil-fuelled- vehicles will not be allowed to enter. This will further push the adaptation of EV by the general public. The battery swapping policy will help accelerate the entire EV infrastructure in the country. It will lead to more innovations and encourage players to develop sustainable and innovative business models for 'Battery or Energy as a Service.'