Electric vehicles are becoming more and more important nowadays, especially with the growing use case in the commercial vehicle space. Many manufacturers and industry solution providers are working on measures to make electric vehicles more affordable, easy to charge and economical to use. Battery swapping is one such technology that offers all these benefits to fleet operators. A battery swap technology, as the name suggests, is a method by which a user can swap out a battery to keep the vehicle running. An exchange station that is installed at a particular location comprises several permanently charged batteries. An EV user can locate an exchange station, replace the dead battery with a charged battery, put the dead battery on charge, and go to work. Battery swap technology has opened up many opportunities for fleet owners who want their vehicles to keep running without worrying about charging time.
During battery swapping, EV users replace discharged batteries with charged batteries at swap stations. This helps solve the problem of placing charging stations and also reduces driver anxiety. Apart from that, battery leasing can help EV consumers save on the cost of purchasing a battery. It consumes minimal time and requires minimal infrastructure to recharge at a battery station, which can take hours.
According to research, by 2030, more than 12 million tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to disappear. It needs raw materials such as lithium, nickel and cobalt which have an environmental and human impact. At the end of their life, batteries also create a lot of electronic waste. Many industry players are working on how to dispose of dead batteries and mine precious metals at scale to keep materials in circulation and reduce reliance on mining. We should work on a better solution to keep the battery in service longer in the AC sectors.
The cost of the battery is currently around 40-70% of the initial cost of an electric vehicle. If these batteries are decoupled and sold separately, it can help transfer the initial cost to the utility’s network which transfers the cost of ownership to operations. Battery swapping and interoperability can play a critical role in this, as they help build the supply chain network to drive the adoption of electric vehicles, which in turn will impact a faster transition.
Modern mobility solutions have two objectives such as technological transition and mobility as a function. We need an aggressive goal with a proper battery swap roadmap that will help change this ecosystem.
Use standard battery technology: Standard battery design such as block size, cavity, power supply control unit and output performance per unit will make battery change easier. These innovations serve as catalysts to achieve economies of scale more quickly.
Recycling EV batteries: Battery recycling is a huge opportunity for India. Batteries that are traded in can be built with a recycling-friendly design to allow for easy reuse. Manufacturing and then recycling the batteries of these EVs with recycled materials will eliminate supplies which will positively impact the unit cost of the vehicles.
Battery as a Service (BaaS): The battery should be treated as a service segment like liquefied petroleum gas or other functional batteries. There is a need to extend incentives to the battery unit to subsidize per-mile operations rather than purchase cost. Gross cost financing models, as well as standard operating procedure for energy operators can help explore financially viable solutions.
The Battery Swapping subscription model: BaaS may be available to users on a subscription model to gain user trust and build confidence in availability.
Building co-dependency: It is important to identify value chain propositions for users, drivers, energy operators, urban local authorities and financing institutions in the exchange of EV batteries. Many startups and large electric vehicle manufacturers are also expected to work on the inventory of previous existing modes, land infrastructure, parking space, spaces for charging infrastructure and EO network in cities.
To deploy Intelligent Transportation Systems technology: Use and promote the use of digital applications that use databases to facilitate human-machine and machine-machine interface, which helps increase the use of EVs and battery swap stations, traction and to ensure efficient operations, safety detection, seamless delivery and improved convenience in the electric vehicle ecosystem.
The use and adoption of electric vehicles has been growing at a rapid rate around the world. By industry standards, an electric vehicle is more expensive than its ICE counterpart, and at least half the cost comes from the battery. Many manufacturers offer batteries separately from a vehicle, reducing the cost. In this case, a fleet owner can purchase vehicles without batteries and use the battery swap to power their vehicles, reducing the initial cost.
One of the main reasons that hinder the purchase of electric vehicles is range anxiety and the fear that the battery will drain without finding a charging station. Compared to petrol or diesel vehicles, charging facilities for electric vehicles are difficult to find, further increasing range anxiety, especially when traveling long distances. One or two charging stations are available, the charging process is similar to charging mobile batteries. The best and fastest charger will recharge the battery to 80% in almost an hour, which is quite a long time considering that fuel pumps can fill a tank in 5 minutes. In the case of a swapping station, one can simply locate a station and replace the empty battery with a new one.
Our government is also trying to address this issue by finalizing the incentives under the battery change program. The policy mainly targets battery exchange services for three-wheeled auto rickshaws and two-wheelers such as electric scooters and motorcycles. As part of this policy, consumers of electric vehicles will benefit from incentives of up to 20% on the cost of battery subscription or rental. The technologies used for battery swapping are not yet popular in India and recharging is preferred. Battery swapping is a very good alternative to powering automobiles in the post-transition phase.
Replaceable batteries can not only be compact, but also eliminate anxiety about range and availability. But it will also mirror the existing network of service stations to facilitate seamless operations. Investment from many private sectors can be leveraged for the operations of supply chain networks and the livelihood of energy operators. The exchange of batteries and the network of energy operators become a service segment. Availability and connectivity to this energy infrastructure is critical to the operation of these exchange stations. It is therefore very important to establish sustainable business models that can be exploited to move this initial cost towards the cost of running an EV.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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