India Inc is preparing plans for mega investments for the electric vehicle mission including charging infrastructure worth thousands of crores in cities, batteries and purchase of three-wheelers and cars.
Government officials said they have held extensive discussions with more than 50 companies, domestic and foreign, for setting up charging infrastructure – a vital requirement of the country’s ambitious e-vehicle plan. Ola and several local taxi aggregators are also considering bulk purchases of electric three-wheelers and e-rickshaws and lease them, industry executives and officials said.
A top official involved in the government’s e-vehicle’s programme said Tata Power, ABB, ACME Cleantech, and few Dutch firms are actively considering setting up vehicle charging stations, while Exide Industries, Amron Batteries and Microtek have held discussions with officials about supplying batteries and setting up bulk shops for motorists to swap drained out batteries with charged ones.
Praveer Sinha, chairman and managing director of Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, said the company plans to partner DMRC and Municipal Corporation of Delhi to set up charging stations at metro stations and other possible locations.
Sinha said a fast-charging station requires an investment of about `25 lakh, while a slowcharging outlet would cost about `1lakh. When the electric vehicle sales pick up in about five years, an area of 3 km could require about 300 charging stations with about 4-5 charging slots, he said. With this costing, setting up charging stations across Delhi would cost about Rs 3,300 crore over five years.
State-run NTPC and Power Grid Corp are also in talks with Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC) and other entities in over half a dozen cities for space to set up battery charging and rapid vehicle charging stations, industry and government sources said. The two firms also plan to purchase batteries in large numbers to lease them out as the government plans to promote electric- three wheelers without batteries to cut costs, sources said.
While setting up charging stations is a challenge, Sinha said it was easier than adequately strengthening the distribution network. An NTPC official said present charging infrastructure is limited as the number of electric vehicles on roads is miniscule as compared to petrol, diesel and CNG vehicles. “It is a chicken and egg kind of situation. Since presently there are less electric vehicles, companies did not want to set up charging stations,” he said.
Power regulator Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has recognised three business models viable within the framework of the Electricity Act 2003. Sources said only electricity distribution licensees and its franchisees could be allowed to set up charging stations as the Act prohibits sale of electricity by any entity other than distribution company.
ET had on October 5 reported that the government is planning to float bulk supply tenders for electric three-wheelers and electric-rickshaws followed by contracts for electric buses. It expects to get bids from manufacturers such as Bajaj Auto, Mahindra & Mahindra, TVS and Piaggio Ape for the tenders for three wheelers.
In order to cut costs and promote electric vehicles, the government is considering sale of two-wheelers, three-wheelers and city buses without batteries to cut costs. The batteries will be leased at a specified cost and can be swapped with recharged ones at charging stations. The government plans to shift to an all-electric fleet by 2030.