By Srihari Mulgund
Charging infrastructure and the charging time of an electrical car or truck (EV) are two of the most significant barriers to their mass adoption in India. In an try to deal with these issues and accelerate the changeover to inexperienced mobility, the Union Governing administration is pushing battery swapping as a workable selection, especially for the two and 3-wheeler segments, as their regular battery dimensions is smaller sized than that of four-wheelers and industrial automobiles.
The simple build of battery swapping is the same as owning a product fitted with batteries for steady use, this sort of as a remote command, rather of charging it each and every time, like a cell cell phone. The only change is that for EVs, the buyer will have to swap the discharged battery for a charged a person at a swap station.
The rationale in pushing this choice is to de-backlink the battery price from the EV price tag and decrease recharging time. Considering the fact that the battery accounts for virtually 30%-40% of an EV’s value, this coverage could assistance accomplish expense parity involving EVs and ICE motor vehicles.
Although the aspects of the battery swapping policy announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Spending plan 2022 are envisioned to be accessible in the following 3 months, the intentions of the Authorities are to:
a) Stimulate (potentially through incentives) the private sector to acquire Battery-as-a-Assistance (BaaS) methods, and
b) Promote battery interoperability.
Problems in battery swapping
For battery swapping to be prosperous in India, the following issues should be resolved:
Interoperability: At the moment, battery packs in EVs are not standardized. Hence, they are incompatible with the assorted car segments, manufacturers and models. Making sure battery compliance with various car designs and standardizing the battery packs and connectors will engage in a critical function. On the software entrance, setting up a normal communication protocol concerning the battery administration technique (BMS) and the motor controller will be critical for general efficiency. In addition, carrying out in depth product validations will assistance increase the overall performance and security of battery packs.
Battery inventory: For each battery in the auto, there demands to be a backup battery. The inventory can be as high as 40%-50% at the begin of operations but can be lowered to 10% -15% by successful optimization. Extra stock will be essential through distinct operational eventualities these kinds of as demand peaking and upkeep of on-industry batteries.
Captive demand from customers: Apart from batteries and stock, battery swapping necessitates investment into real estate and products. The swapping stations have to have to be found at primary places that are easily accessible to prospects, attracting significant rental charges. Remaining a Capex-intensive business, asset utilization gets to be important for extended-expression sustainability.
As a result, desire development for BaaS is essential, which can be tackled by:
1.Confirming bare minimum potential utilization through captive demand from customers (e.g., fleets, vertical integration) and
2.Forging upfront associations with proven automobile suppliers.
Other difficulties related with battery swapping incorporate:
a) A lot quicker charging rates (battery billed in significantly less than 2 hrs) tend to deliver better amounts of warmth, thereby necessitating an Aircon procedure to keep the battery temperatures at optimum degree (~25DegC). The necessity for an Aircon is further fuelled by larger normal ambient temperatures of ~35DegC in India.
b) BaaS operators will need to ensure a uniform array for every swap for shoppers, irrespective of the age of the battery pack, which can be obtained as a result of sensible program functions.
c) Lithium batteries are very flammable, and the new functions of car battery fires have only aggravated this concern. The hazard exacerbates when several battery packs are being dealt with in a person position at the swap station, and in an unlikely event of a hearth because of to negative techniques, an complete space in a dense urban placing will be exposed.
Is battery swapping a lengthy-sighted choice?
Whilst battery swapping is anticipated to continue being appealing for the uptake of EVs in the medium term, its relevance will be evaluated in the extensive phrase.
When the battery engineering improves, the energy density is likely to get much better and a lot more ability can be packed into the battery, ensuing in a lengthier range for each demand. This, coupled with diminished charging occasions, will be a potential problem for BaaS businesses.
Nevertheless, extremely-rapid charging will come with challenges like:
1.Require for further cooling preparations in a automobile, which must be a presented in situation of battery swapping
2.Require for Grade A battery cells to help quick charging. Small-price tag Quality B cells are common among Indian makers now and
3.Infrastructural requirements like larger sized parking areas as quickly charging have to have parking the automobiles for at the very least 30 minutes, whilst battery swapping takes significantly less than 5 minutes.
Though battery swapping will empower the mass adoption of 2 and 3-wheeler EVs, it could not be the acceptable option for passenger and business autos. The substantial pounds of the lithium-ion battery pack would make swapping more difficult, if not unattainable. Furthermore, the infrastructure demanded to swap bigger, heavier battery packs, this sort of as robotics arms, and so forth., will be significantly extra complex and high-priced. At EY-Parthenon, we at present consider that passenger cars will gravitate towards speedy/extremely-speedy charging. In distinction, significant professional vehicles, in the medium term, will very likely go down the route of minimal carbon gas possibilities this kind of as hydrogen.
The results of the BaaS will count on devising successful means to handle the problems talked about over. As these concerns are interrelated, obtaining the proper stability by technology and disruptive business versions is the have to have of the hour.
(Disclaimer: Srihari Mulgund is Associate at EY Parthenon (Guide – Electric Motor vehicle Benefit Chain). Views are personalized.)