The future is here and some of us are already scrambling to be part of it! Decades ago, when Maini launched the Reva in India in 2001, no one thought much about the tiny, Tata Nano like car. The Reva did make news but failed to create a dent in the market due to its premature launch in India.
Fast Forward to 2021. State governments are rolling out FAME II subsidies, international auto OEMs are foraying into India and the air is super charged with the excitement of electric vehicles being the future of the Auto industry. Out with ICE vehicles and in with the “charge” of the EV brigade!
Did you know that our transportation eco-system is one of the biggest emitters of CO2 emission? One way of bringing down these emissions is through the implementation of EV solutions. A study released in 2015 shows that, in the US, electric cars generate half or less than half of the emissions of comparable fuel-powered cars.
And with the rising fuel prices, it’s not the environment that is at risk. Even if you don’t own an ICE vehicle, rising fuel prices make an impact. Public transport becomes expensive, and you need to shell out more to buy products. So, at such a time, buying an electric car makes a lot of sense, right?
Yes, owning an EV for personal use or for your business is more economical and helps saves the environment as well. But there are some teething issues plaguing EV owners.
In this article, we understand the challenges an EV owner can face and what the possible solutions are.
No dedicated parking spots
The EV charging conundrum is nothing but a parking issue. In India, not every 4-wheeler owner has access to a dedicated parking spot. Even in a large residential complex, many residents have opted for open or uncovered parking slots. So, how do they setup their OEM supplied charging station or charger?
Organizations who don’t have dedicated parking spots will face this problem. State governments are launching policies for most residential, commercial and workplace buildings to make provisions for EV chargers. Even our public roads don’t have a regulated parking system where Govt. or Private organizations can set up mass charging stations.
But this is a space that is currently serviced by Charge Point Operators that run a petrol bunk like system but with EV charging stations.
Lack of EV charging infra
One of the most common challenges associated with owning an electric vehicle is range anxiety. The lack of a robust and widespread charging infrastructure adds to the misery of an EV owner. Even though EV sales are seeing an uptick off late, they are being used for intra-city travelling. However, the long-haul travel issue will soon need to be addressed to increase the utilization limits of fleets and allow people to travel across city limits.
A few Indian state governments have proactively floated tenders for the installation of public EV charging stations and dozens of CPO start-ups have mushroomed all over the country. However, most of this infrastructure development is limited to Tier-1 cities and within city limits only.
It’s the classic Chicken and Egg problem. People don’t buy EVs as the charging infrastructure isn’t there and charging infra isn’t an attractive business model as there aren’t enough EVs on the road!
Lack of Standardization
If you know your EV terminologies, you would have heard about different charger connector types. The most common ones are
- CCS / CCS Type 2
- Bharat AC-001/Bharat DC-001
- Tesla Chargers
The EV connector type is provided on the car and on the EV Charger as well. Currently, in India, all standards are being adopted and this creates a problem with supply of EV charging stations. Most cars support the CCS/CCS Type 2 charging connector standard; yet some brands follow GBT or Bharat AC/DC 001 standards.
If the government decides on implementing one standard, then auto OEMs and EVSE providers can focus on the production of just one type of product. This results in faster manufacturing, reduced lead times and the creation of a standardized charging network system that is compatible with all EVs.
Power infra upgrades
So, what does it take to install an EV charger at your premises? If all infrastructure requirements are met, it can be as simple as taking the charger out of the box, installing it, and switching it on. But you need to consider the power requirements as well.
Most residential users need to determine their sanctioned load, spare capacity, and the power intake requirements of the EV charger. If there is a mismatch, then they will need to apply for increased load. This costs money. For example, if your sanctioned load is 5kW and you want to install a 15kW DC charger then your present load would not be able to accommodate the charger’s power requirements.
But there is one solution to this. Residential complexes and other buildings need to look at installation common use charging stations within their premises. A complex will have a high sanctioned load and will be able to accommodate EV charging. Apart from that, you don’t need to install chargers in hundreds of parking slots for everyone.
Another challenge is for an EV owner staying in a house with no power backup and frequent power cuts. In the event of a power loss, you won’t be able to charge the EV. To fix this, you can look at solar installations for power supply. Or during an emergency, a diesel generator can be used to power the EV charger.
Lack of service options
Most of us at some point of time would have faced a vehicle breakdown. And thanks to large availability of skilled/unskilled auto service technicians, the problem would have been taken care of. However, with EVs this system becomes redundant as of now. Yes, an EV has lesser moving parts when compared to an ICE vehicle, but the technology is something our informal service network has no knowledge. Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere can leave you in spot. Even though most Auto OEMs have extensive service and dealer networks across India, their EV Service network is yet to reach a substantial level.
Logistics companies running large EV fleets will be in constant need of servicing, repair, and maintenance of their vehicles. In the absence of an efficient service network, most fleet companies would delay EV adoption.
However, to tackle this issue many Auto companies are offering on-road assistance, towing services and some are also looking at portable, on-the-road charging options for their consumers.
With anything new, there will always be challenges. The EV industry is still in a nascent stage in India but developing at a rapid pace. And catching up to speed are the infrastructure requirements to support the EV demand. Even with the current challenges, electric vehicles present huge potential to reduce our carbon footprints and provide a cost-effective system of transportation. And one way to contribute towards this growth is to buy an electric vehicle.