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Highlights of Updated Battery Swapping Policy
Simran Kaur
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The NITI Aayog presented a draught policy on battery swapping for electric vehicles (EVs) in the country. The policy is intended to increase the efficiency of the battery swapping ecosystem for electric scooters and three-wheeled electric rickshaws, eventually increasing EV adoption.

According to the proposed strategy, the first phase will prioritize the creation of a battery swapping network in all metropolitan cities with a population greater than 40 lakh.

The Indian electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem praised the Niti Aayog's revised Battery Swapping Policy, particularly the proposal to assign assets unique identifying numbers (UINs), but stressed that the policy will have to tread a fine line between promoting standardisation and constraining innovation.

What Exactly Is Battery Swapping?

Battery swapping is a process in which discharged batteries are exchanged for charged ones. This enables the car to be charged independently of the other batteries by decoupling charging and battery usage, and maintains the vehicle in operational mode with little downtime.

Battery swapping is typically reserved for smaller vehicles such as two-wheelers and three-wheelers, which have smaller batteries and are therefore easier to change, as opposed to four-wheelers and e-buses, although solutions for these bigger segments are coming as well.

What is the Need for the Policy?

Traditionally, EVs have been purchased with "fixed" batteries that can only be charged via the power supply contained within the EV.

As with conventional vehicle fuelling stations, adequate, economical, accessible, and dependable charging networks are required for widespread EV adoption.

Efforts are being made in India to increase the availability of charging infrastructure. However, establishing charging infrastructure takes substantially longer than it does in other countries, and metropolitan areas are constrained by space constraints.

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As a result, the Government of India promised in its Budget Speech 2022-23 that the Centre will implement a battery swapping legislation and interoperability standards to boost the efficiency of the EV ecosystem.

What are the most important tenets of this Policy proposal?

According to the draught policy, battery swapping will come under the Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) business model, which must ensure interoperability between EVs and batteries in order for battery swapping to be successfully mainstreamed.

Minimal Technical Standards: This Policy establishes the minimum technical and operational standards that battery swapping ecosystems must meet in order to enable the implementation of battery swapping infrastructure to be effective, efficient, dependable, safe, and customer-friendly.

Financial Assistance: Direct and indirect financial assistance to battery manufacturers (for the cost of batteries) and electric vehicle owners.

Reduced Taxes: The policy recommends that the Goods and Services Tax Council consider reducing the tax differential between lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicle supply equipment.

Currently, the former is taxed at 18%, while the latter is taxed at 5%.

Additionally, the policy intends to provide a Unique Identification Number (UIN) to swappable batteries throughout the manufacturing process to aid in their tracking and monitoring.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is the Central Nodal Agency responsible for the spread of EV public charging infrastructure throughout the country, as well as the implementation of battery swapping networks.

What Is the Policy's Importance?

  • India is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will enter into force in 2021.
  • India is committed to achieve a net-zero energy goal by 2070 under the mandate.
  • To decarbonize transportation, it is critical to transition to clean mobility, led by electric vehicles (EVs).
  • The road transport industry is a significant source of carbon emissions, accounting for almost 33% of particulate matter emissions.
  • Leveraging the EV Market: The Indian EV market was valued at USD 1,434.04 billion in 2021 and is predicted to reach USD 15,397.19 billion by 2027, growing at a 47.09 percent compound annual growth rate.

Has EV security been addressed in the policy?

A thorough testing process will be used to assure a high degree of protection at the electrical interface, the draft stated, in order to avoid any unintended temperature rise at the electrical interface.

The battery management system, which is a piece of software that manages battery functions, will have to be self-certified and available to testing to ensure its interoperability with other systems and ability to fulfil safety standards, it noted.

This is especially significant in light of recent events involving electric two-wheelers catching fire.

Additionally, swappable batteries will need to be integrated with advanced technologies such as IoT-based battery monitoring systems, remote monitoring, and immobilisation capabilities to ensure asset safety.

The Aayog has proposed that all metropolitan cities with a population of more than 40 lakh be prioritised for the creation of battery swapping networks in the first phase, which would take place within 1-2 years of the finalisation of the draught policy.

The second phase will include additional big cities, such as state capitals, with populations greater than 5 lakh. What do you think about this initiative?

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