How EV Battery Swapping Is Accelerating India’s Transition To Electric Transportation


By Kavin Aadithiyan

India’s mobility sector is on a steady transition to electric vehicles. While the sale of EVs was in the one lakh range till FY 2021, they grew rapidly over the last two years to cross the 10 lakh sales mark in FY 2023. With increasing options for buyers, technological advancements, and better financing options, EVs are slowly entering the mainstream.

The type of EVs sold in India closely mirrors the transport industry as a whole. India is majorly a two-wheeler market, and this is reflected in EVs as well. Over 60 per cent of EVs sold last year were 2-wheeler variants. 3-wheelers and e-rickshaws are another dominant category, with nearly 35 per cent share among EVs sold in FY 2023.

Among users, the appeal of EVs has been particularly seen in the commercial vehicles segment due to the significant cost savings they offer. Companies across categories are also increasingly seeing regulatory mandates to convert their delivery fleets to EVs, and global and Indian companies have been making the change. With the declining cost of EVs and technological improvements, it is also an easier proposition for the commercial segment to make this shift.

However, challenges remain that slow the pace of this change. EVs are still expensive to purchase, they have long charging times, and companies need to maintain the asset well to extract maximum returns. Though the uptake of EVs has been good, solving these challenges will see faster growth in the segment. Thankfully, innovative solutions exist to address each of these challenges.

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What Is Battery Swapping?

Battery swapping is a technology that allows the battery in an EV to be swapped for a fully charged one after use. Compared to a regular EV where the battery is charged inside the vehicle, battery swapping has batteries being charged at swapping stations. This allows an EV with a swappable battery to get a fully charged battery nearly instantly and get back on the road, similar to what we experience with a petrol or a diesel vehicle.

The near-instant turnaround time means that a commercial vehicle can get its full range in seconds, thus solving the issue of EV downtime. With charging no longer taking minutes or hours, businesses can focus on their operations and not worry about the vehicle lying idle during operating hours. This allows for easier integration of EVs within fleets.

An EV costs more as compared to a petrol or diesel vehicle as the price of the battery is high. Though battery prices have been declining steadily, it will still be a few years until price parity is reached in terms of purchasing cost between an EV and a petrol vehicle. Battery swapping helps arrive at this price parity now. Instead of buying the battery along with the vehicle, businesses can buy the EV without a battery, opt for a subscription model and pay for recharging the battery. It significantly reduces the cost of ownership of the EV and spreads out the cost of the battery throughout the life of the EV. For businesses looking to reduce costs, battery swapping offers significant savings while providing the benefits of regular EVs. And since the user does not own the battery outright, they don’t have to worry about its maintenance. This is taken care of by the battery-swapping operator, allowing users to focus on their operations.

Battery swapping also offers other advantages such as the establishment of an optimal charging network. Indian cities are densely populated and the rollout of an individual charging network for every EV is not economically viable and also time-consuming. Battery swapping allows for the setup of points that can cater to tens of vehicles, which makes scaling up the ecosystem for EVs easier and faster.

While battery swapping has numerous benefits, it might not be the right choice of technology for everyone. Individual users who charge once every few days might not worry about the charging time of their vehicle. And they might prefer having ownership of the entirety of the EV than going for a subscription model for the battery.

However, swapping offers significant advantages for commercial vehicles, which are already seeing an impact on the ground. The rollout of battery swapping and faster adoption of EVs only helps the sector as a whole as it brings in economies of scale and enables innovation, thus driving down the cost of EVs. And for India’s quest to reduce pollution in its cities, battery swapping provides a route for certain vehicle classes to achieve that aim faster. For these reasons, we can say that battery swapping is accelerating the transition to electric transportation. 

(The author is the Marketing Manager of Sheru)

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP Network Pvt. Ltd.

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