Developing Low-Cost Charging Infrastructure Is Key To Scaling Up Adoption Of Electric Vehicles

Developing Low-Cost Charging Infrastructure Is Key To Scaling Up Adoption Of Electric Vehicles

by Arun Kumar Das - Thursday, May 13, 2021 12:30 PM IST
Developing Low-Cost Charging Infrastructure Is Key To Scaling Up Adoption Of Electric VehiclesAn electric scooter at a charging station.
  • Any charging solution to serve this sector must be highly scalable, affordable and easily accessible by the public.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure has been developed with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on import of crude oil.

Indian cities, towns and villages will soon be able to benefit from an innovative low-cost EV charge point that can accelerate the adoption of electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers.

A forthcoming ‘Indian standard’ will allow a rapid scaling up of EV charging infrastructure that is much needed in the country.

The objectives of India’s transformative mobility programme for promoting EVs are to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and to reduce the dependence on import of crude oil.

The several initiatives undertaken by the NITI Aayog (mission for transformative mobility and battery storage) and the launch of FAME-2 incentives are intended to stimulate the production and demand for EVs in India.

Yet, the consumer adoption of EVs will also depend on the easy availability of EV charging infrastructure. Potential buyers must be confident of finding chargers for their vehicles when they are away from home.

The share of internal combustion engine (ICE) two-wheelers and three-wheelers is about 84 per cent of total vehicle sales in our country. Therefore, the fastest adoption of EVs is expected to be in two-wheelers and three-wheelers. By 2025, forecasts expect up to 4 million of such vehicles could be sold each year, growing to almost 10 million by 2030.

Any charging solution to serve this sector must be highly scalable, easily accessible by the public; it should support interoperability, and be affordable. Most systems developed across the globe address higher levels of power and are very expensive for wide-spread deployment.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India, in close coordination with the NITI Aayog team had taken on this challenge.

A committee involving all the key stakeholders including EV manufacturers, auto and electronic component suppliers, power utilities, and communication service providers has worked in fast-track mode to develop specifications, prototype products, and undertake testing and validation of the proposed standards. These will be formally issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The group had set a target price of less than Rs 3,500 for a smart AC charge point operated with a smartphone, for a global breakthrough in affordable EV charging infrastructure.

Fast-track development of the standard, close working between industry and government, and diligent testing and validation has met with success.

This low-cost AC chargepoint (LAC) allows up to 3 kW of power to be drawn charging eScooters and eAutorickshaws. The user’s smartphone will communicate with the LAC via low-power bluetooth and link up to a back-end where transaction payment and analytics are enabled.

The user’s smartphone can be used for multiple accounts and payment options.

Several Indian manufacturers are already on board to make this charge point device, as per ‘Indian standards’, with target prices starting as low as Rs 3,500. The LAC device is intended to be highly scalable and deployed in any place where a 220V 15A single phase line is available — mainly targeting parking lots of metro and railway stations, shopping malls, hospitals, office complexes, apartments and even kirana and other shops.

The draft ‘Indian standard’ has been taken up by the BIS committee on electromobility standards. The formal release of the standards will be done within the next two months, after completion of field and durability trials of sample products. It is expected that a new industry sector will emerge catering to the high volume, low-cost charging infrastructure for EVs.

Dr V Sumantran, chairman, DST-PSAO Group on charging infrastructure observed: “when industry and government entities come together to work on national goals, remarkable progress can be achieved with speed. Furthermore, this effort brought out the talent in India for intelligent cost-innovation. Affordability constraints in India demand that we address problems keeping in mind both cost and scalability.”

Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog said: “the emphasis on charging points rather than costly charging stations has led to the accelerated efforts by the team for developing the LAC charging standard for the light electric vehicles segment, as the next logical step."

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at

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