EV infra vital to electric mobility’s future

The Government of India has led the EV adoption effort with conducive policies at  national and state levels. The NITI Aayog has also set EV penetration targets for all vehicle segments for 2030. EV adoption is gaining momentum, with incentive mechanisms like purchase and manufacturing subsidies complemented by government mandates across India. The current trend of EV adoption in India hints at the importance of electrification of large fleets as many large fleets of public transit buses and government vehicles are being electrified. Private fleet operators as well as last-mile delivery fleets have also committed to electrification. However, there has been limited focus on the post-adoption needs of the EV ecosystem.

EV infrastructure is imperative to make electric mobility sustainable: EV infrastructure comprises several enabling technologies and supporting systems that aid the operationalisation of an electric fleet. Its development must focus on all the three major components, i.e. Charging Infrastructure, IT Systems and Vehicle Maintenance. Most importantly, charging infrastructure must be made available across mobility ecosystems to mitigate range anxiety. For LCV segments, access to swapping infrastructure will be key. The same is envisaged in the upcoming battery swapping policy which will be a key enabler for charging purposes. Further, India needs to strengthen the charging network as its public charger to EV ratio of 0.04 is quite low compared to countries like South Korea, Netherlands, China, France, and Japan where it is in the 0.10-0.47 range. EV infrastructure development also appears to be deficient on charging standards, charger assembly and manufacturing facilities, battery swapping infrastructure and financial support for setting up and operation of charging infrastructure.

The IT infrastructure needs to be another focus area of policy & regulatory measures. The criticality of IT systems for operating chargers, EVs and supporting mobile applications can be supported well by the Indian telecom industry, with BMS (Battery Management Systems), V2C (Vehicle to Charger) Communications, and similar technologies being very important in this context.

The EV maintenance and repair services constitute the third component of EV infrastructure. But the availability of parts and repair services for EVs are still at a very nascent stage in India with there being very few established players in the business.
Policy and regulatory measures will pilot the scaling of seamless EV infrastructure: India has been focussed on driving demand for EVs through the FAME scheme. Along with this, incentives offered under a PLI scheme to promote the development of advanced technologies are expected to boost domestic output and scale up EV adoption. This approach has helped improve the affordability of EVs but hasn’t necessarily influenced their viability as infrastructure is yet to evolve fully in India.

For instance, there are multiple charging standards in India for various segments of vehicles which hinder interoperability. This can be addressed through a national policy and conducive framework that seeks to standardise charging infrastructure. Also necessary is apolicy framework that enables installation of charging stations at various locations. Given the low volumes of EVs plying in cities, Charge Point Operator (CPO) businesses should be incentivised until EV penetration rises to a level where COPs become viable. Further, the onus of service and parts supply is still on OEMs in India. What is needed is a policy that supports the service station network to establish a strong supply chain for EV spare parts.

Authors: Sumit Mishra, Director; Rushabh Gandhi, Senior Consultant; and Sahil Bhandare, Consultant, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP.

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