To establish electric mobility as a serious alternative to conventional ICE mobility, it is essential to address the lack of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country. A robust and well-equipped charging network is vital in the adoption of EVs. There are barriers that have plagued the growth of EVs across India, the lack of charging stations being one of them. It is essential that detailed plans are laid down to clear up infrastructural space for installing more charging stations in all cities and make EV a known and trusted more of transport.
India is a price-sensitive market, with price being the most dominant factor during purchase decisions. In the US, a few years ago, the main question customers had when purchasing EVs were about price. Today, the number one concern, as per a report by McKinsey, is regarding adequate charging infrastructure. In the report, it is stated that to keep pace with the rapidly growing interest in EVs, vast networks of publicly accessible chargers are needed to be built and a failure to do so could reduce EV growth.
Globally, price, limited public charging infrastructure & long charging times are the top 3 barriers to EV adoption. There has been progress in this regard. Ten years ago, EV owners could usually charge only at home. Then came public Level 2 charging points and now, we are seeing the availability of fast-charging options.
General Motors, in a bid to increase its EV sales, plans to install up to 40,000 Level 2 chargers at its dealerships across US & Canada. The company estimated that nearly 90% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a GM dealership.
Nissan conducted a survey in June 2021, which revealed that 56% of European ICE vehicle drivers, who are considering buying an EV, believe there are not enough charging points and they may delay their purchase.
The Importance of charging infrastructure to encourage the adoption of more EVs was debated in the New York City Department of Transportation.
Range anxiety is slowing EV adoption. Many consumers are hesitant to buy EVs until they know that they will be able to recharge when and where they want. A 2019 global survey of licensed drivers by AlixPartners, a consulting firm that advises General Motors, stated that 46% of respondents would buy an EV only if charging stations were as common as gas stations.
According to the Boston Consultancy Group (BCG), the EV charging market is still in the initial stages in many countries and even the most mature markets have not yet reached the target figures.
The Swedish Environmental Research Institute, in a study titled ‘Sustainable Horizons in Future Transport’, found that an increased number of public charging points increase the adoption rate of electric vehicles, especially in urban municipalities. Differences in the expansion of public charging infrastructure across municipalities could explain why the adoption rate of electric vehicles was faster in some municipalities. Expansion of charging infrastructure is therefore indicated to be an effective instrument to increase the share of electric vehicles.
Many countries have taken 10 years or more to get where they are today, but no other country (including India) can wait another 10 years to plan and implement. Climate change initiatives and high oil prices are accelerating the EV timeline and governments need to be sure that when these vehicles hit the road, their charging network is ready. There is no single path to an ideal charging infrastructure but many lessons can be learnt from EV charging ecosystems around the world.
The core objectives of India’s program for promoting EVs are to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and reduce dependence on the import of crude oil. Initiatives taken by the NITI Aayog & the launch of FAME-2 incentives are stimulating demand for EVs in India. Yet, the adoption of EVs will also depend on the easy availability of EV charging infrastructure. Potential buyers must be confident of finding charging points for their vehicles when they are away from home.
Once prospective EV buyers have confidence in the charging infrastructure and charging stations/kiosks become a common sight while driving just like petrol pumps, it will be a major boost to EV adoption.
1. Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum & Hindustan Petroleum announced that they would jointly add up to 22,000 charging stations at their petrol pumps.
2. Tata Power achieved a milestone of 1000 charging stations across the country.
3. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) plans to add an EV charging station at every 40 to 60 kms on national highways.
4. Kazam EV Tech was empanelled by BAF (Bangalore Apartments Federation) for deploying charging stations across Bangalore.
5. Ashok Leyland tied up with ABB Power to set up a fast-charging infrastructure for electric buses.
6. Mahindra Group & Jio-BP (a joint venture between Reliance & BP) joined hands to set up charging and swapping points at Jio-BP stations.
7. India’s 1st app for locating charging stations ‘EV Plugs’ launched. It has more than 1000 verified listings across 60 cities.
8. Kazam joins hands with ADDA to set up charging stations in over 1000 residential societies across India.
9. The world’s highest EV charging station opens in Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
10. Union Ministry of Heavy Industries announced the setting up of 6000 EV charging stations on 9 expressways across India.
Convenience is vital to EV adoption, and plug-and-charge solutions represent the next significant evolution in fueling our vehicles. Charging in public areas is a big aspect of broadening the appeal of EVs, which so far are a premium market although costs are coming down over time.
Governments need to invest heavily in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and collaborate more closely with the private sector to achieve their targets for public uptake of electric vehicles. Public charging infrastructure will play a decisive role in the efficient take-off of the EV revolution in India.