Electric mobility is transforming the automotive industry. And batteries — the ticking heart of any electric vehicle, or "EV" — have morphed into a separate, massive business.
An announcement earlier this month by technology research firm Counterpoint highlights a study which finds that the global EV battery business has been growing at 54 per cent year-on-year, in tandem with EV sales, which are growing at 43 per cent.
The battery business is dominated by Chinese and South Korean players, who have together scooped up two-thirds of the global market.
Batteries and the availability of adequate EV charging have emerged as the central concern of EV owners — and a big opportunity for ancillary business as well as innovation.
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries dominate the EV space, but shortage of lithium has driven developers to come up with sodium-ion (Na-ion) as a viable alternative.
The lower energy density of Na-ion has restricted its use to lighter vehicles, like two-wheelers and small cars.
Regarding the Indian EV battery market, there is some variation in the estimates offered by market analysts:
Mordor Intelligence suggests that the Indian battery market will grow from $16.77 billion in 2023 to $27.70 billion by 2028. However, this figure doesn't account for EV batteries alone, and includes, for instance, lead-acid batteries and stationary batteries for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices.
Research and Markets estimates the size of the EV Indian battery market to be at $5.9 billion in 2023, and expected to reach $10.14 billion by 2028.
However, there is general agreement that there is good potential for India in the manufacturing of EV batteries, since it is currently heavily dependent on importing 60-65 per cent of the total component requirement of a battery for EVs.
While the government does not appear too keen on extending the fiscal incentives offered to EV buyers in India under the FAME-2 scheme, it is more generous when it comes to nudging the indigenous manufacture of EV batteries.
A Bloomberg report from last week quoted unnamed sources to state that the government is all set to announce a Rs 8,000 crore ($9,650 million) incentive scheme for the production of EV batteries in India, aimed at collectively generating a capacity of 20 gigawatt hours of energy.
Expected to bid for a share of the incentive are players like Amara Raja, Exide, Tata, and Hero MotorCorp, who have already made or announced investments towards the manufacture of EV batteries.
Amara Raja is known to have set up a lithium-ion facility in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, while Exide has announced investments for a similar plant in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Tata Chemicals is acquiring lithium-ion technology from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Hero, through its major investment in the EV scooter from Ather Energy, is also into EV battery manufacturing, since Ather’s Hosur (Tamil Nadu) scooter plant will also make the required batteries.
Maruti Suzuki has formed a joint venture with Toshiba for batteries to power its hybrid cars.
EV charging requires advanced grid systems, efficient chargers, and home energy integration — all driving a surge in demand for widespread and efficient charging stations.
To address this demand, a Bengaluru-headquartered electronic design and development house, iWave, is an early mover and has recently created a suite of embedded computing platforms and solutions for powering EV charging stations and telematics solutions for EVs.
Its recent offerings include a Telematics Connect Hub for EVs, which helps visualise driver and vehicle performance while gathering actionable insights on the battery health, charging schedule, EV station's analytics, routing, and dispatch workflow.
iWave’s solution for erecting a display monitor for a charging station is a single board computer, with efficient graphics rendering for a visually engaging user interface for EV charging stations.
And its i.Mx93 system on modules serves as an ideal building block in designing an EV charging controller, seamlessly integrated with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity.
Tool For EV Owners
One of the largest EV charging networks in India, Statiq, has launched a tool for EV owners, called StatiqConnect, with features such as total kilometres travelled, improved journey tracking and maintenance planning, and the remaining range.
The charging indicator enables users to keep tabs on the vehicle's charging status, thereby aiding in effective daily planning, and the current location option supports real-time tracking, offering insights into the vehicle's whereabouts.
Beefing Up EV Charging Networks
Another EV charging company, Charge+Zone, has announced the launch of a national network of what it calls SuperCharging stations.
The network, starting with Mumbai and Vellore, will be equipped with four guns delivering 60 kWh and one gun delivering 500 amps DC, which offer quick charging times of just 15–20 minutes.
The company has joined Evnnovator to recently tie up with luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz to offer charging solutions tailored to their customers.
Magenta Mobility, a leading EV charging provider with 800 outlets across India, has developed PLENT, claimed to be India’s first charger with 12 outputs of 3.3 kW each, with a charging time of three to four hours.
The startup Energy Company has developed a battery platform called Flexi for ultrafast, adaptive charging — 15 minutes for a 50-km range or 55 minutes for 100 km — which will work with any brand of 3KW charger.
With all these innovations and the gradual proliferation of charging facilities on Indian highways, customers may be slowly persuaded to make the switch to EVs from petrol, diesel, or gas, and help achieve the government's target of 30 per cent EV adoption by 2030 of two-wheelers, three-wheelers, cars, and commercial vehicles.
Anand Parthasarathy is managing director at Online India Tech Pvt Ltd and a veteran IT journalist who has written about the Indian technology landscape for more than 15 years for The Hindu.
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