electric vehicle charging

View from India: Safety standards the way forward for EVs

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Electric mobility can gain momentum through measures such as safety protocols for batteries and a sound charging infrastructure.

Safety measures need to be incorporated into the ecosystem. For instance, the batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) need to be safe or users can be subject to electric shock. Or the parking lot may go up in flames. “Electric current is dangerous anyway. Battery safety standards need to be set and this may help India transform into an electric vehicle hub,” said Hannes Neupert, managing director at EnergyBus.org, speaking virtually at the CII Karnataka Electric Mobility Conclave.

The battery packs require some sort of standardisation. It could mean that the battery packs have an identification number which is captured by the registration authority. Other than that, several professionals have to come together to strengthen the battery system. Facilities need to be in place to regulate, test, validate and certify the batteries through test protocols. It’s an opportunity for startups to explore solutions for the safety of batteries. Entrepreneurs can bring in solutions for battery maintenance; another option could be to rent out batteries.

Recycling electric batteries can be an option to avoid leaving behind lot of e-waste. It can provide employment for allied services. Cell phone batteries are used for recycling purposes; can we look at a similar activity in India, and make it contribute to a circular economy? It’s also necessary to consider the end-of-life of lithium batteries – is there a possibility to recycle them?

In the EV segment, electric buses have had a smooth ride as most buses ply intra-city routes. They need to be charged once and this usually happens overnight. “Charging infrastructure is not so much an issue as the availability of real estate. Around 50 buses need to be parked in one place almost at the same time. The problem may arise if these buses commute between cities,” said Naga Satyam N, founder and director of TriGreen Energy Private Limited. Charging infrastructure on highways, and proximity to tourist destinations and airports, may help solve this. The government may throw it open for public-private partnership.  

It takes massive infrastructure backing to bring EVs into mainstream usage. Batteries guzzle power, so can we look at renewable alternatives like solar power? This could make EVs stabilisers for renewable power and the future of the renewable journey of India. “Most people who own EVs prefer to charge the vehicle at home or in the office. This leads us to the issue of how EV charging points can be popularised. Probably it can happen through mobile apps or bluetooth application, whereby the mobile wallet facilitates the payment mode. It would be nice if there’s a swapping policy for mileage,” added S Jabez Dhinagar, vice president, TVS Motors.

EVs are not just about four wheelers. Electric bicycles could become a means of public transport; how can this be made possible? What comes to mind is a pay-and-use model that could make these bicycles as a means of transport. 

In short, the manufacturing of the EVs calls for attention at every stage. “There’s a need to understand the requirements of customers. With this, it would be great if our EV industry can scale-up to global standards,” said Shanmugasundaram Manikandan, director at Spero Mobility and Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd. There is a learning curve, and the learning can come from the global market. But what we could do is customise it to Indian roads and to the pocket as well.   

Electric mobility brings many thoughts to mind. Do the batteries need to be standardised? Do we need sub stations or will hybrid ones do? And how green should the stations be?  

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