India’s electric vehicle (EV) and charging infrastructure market is gradually expanding owing to adequate policy incentives, tenders by state and city authorities, initiatives by discoms and public sector undertakings to set up charging stations, and the drive of private developers and technology providers to promote electric mobility in the country. As per the estimation of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), India has about 3,200 charging points, set up in 2021, and this number should increase more than 600 times to meet the expected charging demand by 2030.
However, India does not have any proven business models for EV charging and it still needs to develop a mature market for the growth of electric mobility. While a few models have been tried, such as the public-private partnership (PPP) model or the discom-anchored model, the utilisation rate at public EV charging stations remains quite low. In fact, many private charging station developers prefer to go for captive charging systems or tie up with corporate fleets to ensure continued revenues. Thus, a host of policy interventions, consumer awareness drives and viable business models are required. While initial steps have been taken in the right direction, much more needs to be done to promote the growth of EVs and a sustained ecosystem.
Against this backdrop, Renewable Watch presents the key developments in the EV charging space in the past one year, and highlights the major issues and the way forward for this emerging sector…
With the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) I scheme not being entirely successful in creating the expected pace of electric mobility development, the government introduced FAME II in April 2019. Initially, FAME II had a sanctioned budget of Rs 100 billion for three years (2019-20 to 2021-22). However, it has been extended for a period of two years up to March 31, 2024 to enable growth in the EV space through increased demand incentives for two-wheelers. The incentives have been increased to Rs 15,000 per kWh from Rs 10,000 per kWh and the cap has been hiked from 20 per cent to 40 per cent of the cost of the vehicle to bring the cost of electric two-wheelers at par with that of internal combustion engine two-wheelers. As of July 2021, FAME I and II have supported 0.371 million EVs, with a total incentive of Rs 6,340 million.
States have also been quite active in promoting EV uptake and at least 18 states have released EV policies (final as well as draft) till now. More are expected to be launched soon. In fact, five states – Meghalaya, West Bengal, Gujarat, Odisha and Maharashtra – have released their final EV policies in 2021. Along with indicative targets, most of these state policies have direct and indirect incentives such as capital subsidy, land allocation support, waiver of taxation and registration for promoting the electric mobility ecosystem in their respective states.
In another intervention, the Union cabinet approved the Rs 181,000 million National Program on Advance Chemistry Cells Production Linked Incentive Scheme for battery manufacturing and storage in May 2021. This programme will enable technology advancements and cost reductions in the battery space, which will ultimately also help drive EV adoption in the country.
State- and city-level initiatives
While government agencies are responsible for the launch of tenders and the adoption of policies and programmes, the electricity regulators set the requisite tariffs for EV charging in their respective states. Power utilities also have a significant role to play as they supply power for charging EVs and manage their load demand accordingly, and they can adopt the role of aggregators in their regions to set up EV charging infrastructure. Discoms such as BSES, Tata Power, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) and Adani Electricity have been making significant efforts in their jurisdictions to ramp up EV charging. To meet the increasing demand for charging infrastructure, these city and state agencies have floated various tenders for setting up charging stations.
New Delhi has been one of the most active states in promoting EV uptake through tenders and collaborations. For instance, in February 2021, Delhi Transco Limited invited bids from private agencies to set up and operate 500 EV public charging points across 100 public locations in the city. Then, in July 2021, the Delhi government announced a tender to select vendors to set up charging stations for EVs in spaces such as shopping malls, theatres, multiplexes, departmental stores, hospitals and residential areas. Further, in October 2021, Delhi discom BSES tied up with an Indian start-up, Kazam, to provide around 30,000 EV charging stations over the next three years and North Delhi Municipal Corporation announced its plans to set up 50 EV charging stations over the next six months.
Tenders and collaborations have also been announced by governments and local authorities (mainly power utilities) in a few other states and cities to scale up EV adoption. For instance, in September 2021, BESCOM announced plans to set up 140 additional EV charging stations across Bengaluru over the next six months to boost EV usage in the city. Then, in October 2021, the Kerala State Electricity Board invited bids for the supply of 200 EVs and 1,000 special purpose EVs along with the setting up of charging stations for commercial operation. In September 2021, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) announced a partnership with Yulu, a Bengaluru-based e-mobility service provider, to have 24-hour access to battery charging and swapping access across multiple points in Mumbai. Yulu plans to install over 500 charging stations at the AEML premises in the next 18 months.
Further, the Nashik Municipal Corporation has disclosed plans to set up at least 20 EV charging stations for both 2W and 4W, and Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited has initiated the process to set up EV stations in the city in PPP mode.
Key industry players
The EV ecosystem comprises several players including industry, service providers, automobile manufacturers, corporate establishments, as well as government agencies and power utilities. All these players have been actively working through tie-ups and collaborations in different capacities to promote EVs and the related ecosystem. The emerging opportunities in the Indian EV segment have led to the entry of many technology providers and charging infrastructure developers such as Magenta, Fortum, Exicom and Volttic. Many of these players have tied up with various PSUs such as Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL) – a subsidiary of Energy Efficiency Services Limited, NTPC and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), which have announced their plans to implement EV charging stations on a massive scale across India.
A case in point, CESL has invited expressions of interest to empanel EV charging point operators who will supply, install, test, commission, operate and maintain EV charging stations in India on a build-own-operate basis. These EV charging stations will be deployed in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Surat, Pune, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati. Another PSU, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) announced plans to add an EV charging station for every 40-60 km of national highway in October 2021. The organisation plans to cover 40,000 km of the highways by 2023 with these charging stations. In all, 700 charging stations will come up over the next two years.
In September 2021, IOCL floated a tender in two categories to empanel vendors to develop solar projects at its locations and retail outlets across India. As of November 2021, IOCL is planning to set up EV charging infrastructure at its existing fuel pumps. It will install EV charging facilities at 10,000 fuel stations over the next three years. Another oil and gas major, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited has announced plans to commission 5,000 EV charging stations over the next three years.
Automobile manufacturers across the globe and in India have been quick to jump on to the EV bandwagon, with impressive commitments and initiatives. For instance, MG Motors India has partnered with Fortum and Tata Power to set up superfast charging stations. Similarly, Hero Electric has signed an agreement with Massive Mobility to develop 10,000 EV chargers. TVS has entered into a strategic partnership with Tata Power to drive the implementation of EV charging stations across India.
Corporate establishments including delivery fleets, real estate players and even the hospitality industry have decided to go down the carbon-neutral road and promote electric mobility. For instance, in August 2021, food delivery service Swiggy signed an agreement with Reliance BP Mobility Limited to build an EV ecosystem and battery-swapping stations for its delivery partners across India. Real estate developer the Lodha Group has tied up with Tata Power to provide EV charging infrastructure at its residential and commercial projects. Hotel chain Marriott International has partnered with CESL to construct and operate EV charging infrastructure in its hotels.
The availability of EV charging systems is the most important factor in promoting the growth of EVs. Given that e-mobility is still a nascent market with limited charging infrastructure, there is range, time and socket anxiety among consumers. A dense network of chargers is needed to address the issue of range anxiety, along with fast charging systems and multiple technologies to address time and socket anxiety issues. Further, adequate grid connectivity and land with space for parking vehicles are other key considerations that need to be looked at for enabling EV charging infrastructure development.
EV sales currently do not contribute even 2 per cent of the total annual automobile sales in the country. Thus, for long-term growth, public awareness needs to be built regarding the benefits of EVs and the range of incentives available. Further, people should be informed about the established charging station networks in their localities to give them confidence in buying EVs. This will help improve the cost economics of EV charging points and attract more private investments into the sector to enable the creation of a sustainable charging ecosystem in the country.
By Khushboo Goyal