Adopting EVs: India on track to becoming one of the biggest players in the sector

The electric vehicle (EV) market in India has been growing at an incredible pace owing to the adoption of electric mi­cro-mobility vehicles. However, at present, India’s EV charging infrastr­ucture is not expansive enough to cater to the growing EV demand. How­ever, there has been an improvement. As of January 23, 2023, India has 5,254 public EV ch­ar­ging stations, catering to a total of 2 million EVs, according to data provided by the Vahan dashboard, revealed in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy, R.K. Singh. This data underscores the desperate need to increase the number of EV charging stations in India to catch up with the increasing demand for EVs over gasoline-based vehicles.

Current statistics

Despite the low output, India is still considered a booming market for EV charging stations. According to a report by Fu­ture Market Insights, India is one of the major players in the market for EV charging stations in the Asia-Pacific region. India has the highest share in the market, with a revenue growth of 26.6 per cent during the report’s projected period. Key EV providers in India are bringing forth end-user fleets with innovative, safe and inventive charging options.

State-wise, Karnataka has the highest nu­mber of EV charging stations at 774, clo­sely followed by Maharashtra at 660, Delhi at 539 and Tamil Nadu at 442.

However, based on the data provided by Vahan, the majority of EVs in the country have been registered in Uttar Pradesh. The majority of the vehicles in Uttar Pra­desh are two- and three-wheelers. How­ever, the state has only 406 public EV ch­arging stations, catering to 450,000 vehicles. This amounts to only one charging station for ev­ery 1,103 EVs.

As of February 7, 2023, Maharashtra has registered the second-highest number of EVs at 212,000, followed by Delhi, Ka­r­na­taka and Rajasthan at 197,000, 171,000 and 136,000 respectively. In Delhi, Raja­sthan and Uttar Pradesh, the majority of the vehicles registered are electric three-wheelers, whereas in Maharashtra and Kar­nataka, electric cars are the majority. The number of electric cars in Maha­rash­tra and Kar­nataka is 17,216 and 10,249 respectively.

Government steps up efforts

The National Highways Authority of India is also developing wayside amenities (WSAs) along highways and expressways. EV charging stations have been designated as a mandatory facility across all WSAs. To this end, the government has initiated the installation of 137 EV charging stations on national highways.

According to data provided by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, as of Decem­ber 12, 2022, a total of 43 public charging stati­ons are reportedly operational on 16 nati­onal highways across the country.

Telecom players eye opportunities

Telecom connectivity and new technologies can have a huge impact on the way EV markets develop in India, especially wh­en it comes to EV charging infrastruct­ure. Mo­bile networks, along with smart gri­d technology, can blend electricity generation and consumption with advanced co­mmunication requirements, providing both service providers and utilities real-time access to the grid while also enabling optimum grid efficiency. Telcos can also play an important role in enabling and ensuring battery management. Low-latency and hi­gh-bandwidth connections can help EV producers constantly monitor and share battery-related information. Real-time insi­gh­ts into the operating conditions of batteries can help ensure that cars do not break down, and provide information on the number of EV charging stations re­q­uired at each junction.

As organisations across different sectors try to capitalise on the EV charging opportunity and gain a share of this growing pie, the telecom sector, too, has started leveraging opportunities in this space.

For instance, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limi­ted (BSNL) has signed an agreement with EVI Technologies (EVIT) to set up ba­ttery swapping and charging stations. The 10-year MoU will ensure that EVIT installs ch­arging infrastructure across 5,000 of BSNL’s locations in the country, covering ma­jor cities. It will also look after the operation and maintenance (O&M) of battery-swapping infrastructure at these locations. For its part, BSNL will provide the required space and power connections for installing the infrastructure.

BSNL has also signed an MoU with En­ergy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) for the installation of EV charging stations. Ac­cor­ding to the agreement, EESL will launch 1,000 sites under BSNL in a phased manner across the country. Meanwhile, BSNL will provide the requisite space and power connections for installing the charging in­frastructure. EESL will make the entire up­front investment in services pertaining to the MoU. The O&M of the ch­arging infrastructure will also be the res­pon­sibility of EESL, which will deploy qualified personnel for this purpose.

Among private telcos, Jio-bp has partnered with Piramal Realty to provide wo­rld-class EV charging solutions across all of Piramal’s residential projects in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Under this partnership, customers and visitors at Piramal’s residential projects will be able to charge their EVs seamlessly at Jio-bp pulse EV charging stations using the Jio-bp pulse mobile app. The first set of EV charging points under this partnership will be located in Thane. Apart from fixed charging, Jio-bp will also provide battery-swapping services via its network of battery-swapping stations. EV customers will have the opportunity to avail both the­se services seamlessly through Jio-bp’s mobile app.

Towercos such as Indus Towers Limi­t­ed have also announced plans to utilise th­e­ir plethora of telecom towers to charge EVs, thus slowly morphing into industry-wide infrastructure providers.

Initiatives by other players

Other players have also stepped up efforts to set up EV charging infrastructure. To this end, Alektrify Private Limited has de­veloped a new EV charging station under the Ease of Doing Business Programme. Situated in Gurugram, it is one of the lar­gest EV charging stations in the nation. It con­tains 121 charging points for four-wheelers. Commenting on the la­unch, Ab­hi­jeet Sinha, national programme director for the Ease of Doing Business Programme and project director of the national highway for EVs, said, “This is our second prototype station, co­n­structed in just 30 days. After the Sector-52 EV charging station, two more stations of the same size and scale will be installed in Noida within 60 days for the Delhi-Agra e-highway, which will conclude the prototype modelling of e-hubs.”

Meanwhile, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna Power Li­mited (BYPL) have facilitated the installation of around 2,300 EV charging points in Delhi. BRPL and BYPL customers can also ac­cess private EV charging points throu­gh the Switch Delhi portal at their ho­mes, group housing societies, multi-storey ap­artment complexes, resident welfare ass­ociation offices and commercial sh­o­ps. The Delhi government is providing a one-time subsidy of Rs 6,000 for the first 30,000 charging points as well.

The way ahead

According to a report published by For­tune Business Insights, the Indian EV ma­r­ket will grow at a compound annual gro­wth rate of 66.52 per cent between 2021 and 2029 and will be valued at $113.99 billion by 2029.

The government is going to play an essential role in this growth. To this end, the launch of the FAME India II scheme with an outlay of Rs 100 billion to incentivise demand for EVs by providing up­front subsidies and creating EV charging infrastructure is a step in the right direction. Moreover, 1 million electric two-whee­lers, 500,000 electric three-wheelers, 55,000 electric cars and 7,090 el­ectric bu­ses are to be supported under FAME II th­rough subsidies. An allocation of Rs 10 billion has also been provided under FAME II for EV charging stations.

With governmental support for the growth of the EV market, the rising de­ployment of EV charging stations and the interest sh­own by different sectors, India seems to ha­ve a firm grip on this space for the future.