The detrimental effects of traffic air pollution have long been a major concern for cities across India, given its potential health hazards. What’s worrisome is that as many as 63 Indian cities were ranked among the 100 most polluted places on Earth as per Swiss company IQAir’s World Air Quality Report released in March 2022.
Several studies indicate that vehicular emissions are a major causative factor of air pollution. Therefore, it is apparent that to ensure clean air in Indian cities, decreased automotive emissions from the adoption of cleaner, low-polluting transportation options are crucial.
The development of electric vehicles (EVs) has been a boon in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. While still in its early stages globally, EVs may aid in propelling India’s efforts to cut down on transportation-related emissions and boost its electric/clean energy footprint.
Robust Battery Options
With the emergence of EVs, two battery options are now available – fixed batteries and battery swapping. Since both have pros and cons, consumers can decide what suits them best as per their requirements. In the case of battery swapping, it eliminates the need for mass charging points and is speedy. In this system, depleted batteries are replaced with fully-charged ones.
For consumers who have longer, planned journeys, fixed batteries are a good option. But consumers need to ensure there is adequate charging infrastructure in their vicinity and on the planned travel route. Also, it is necessary to ascertain they have batteries that can be charged rapidly, making fixed-battery EVs more worthwhile for them.
Conversely, battery-swapping can be a more practical choice for people used to unforeseen journeys. It can also be useful during times of contingencies. Going by predictions, India’s battery-swapping market is anticipated to be valued at $17 billion by 2025. But consumers must note that for swapping, two batteries need to be identical. This could be possible by promoting standardization in swappable batteries.
In both the above scenarios, the two types of batteries available are LFP and NMC. While both are Lithium-ion batteries, LFP uses a lithium-iron-phosphorous cathode while NMC employs one made of nickel, manganese and cobalt. Additionally, LFP batteries have greater tolerance to heat and longer lives.
On the other hand, NMC batteries pack better power density, resulting in less weight and longer ranges of 480 km or more. But these batteries cost more, have less heat tolerance as well as shorter lifespans.
In a nation such as India, as far as infrastructure along transport routes is concerned, EVs with longer range will still need to recharge or swap batteries, especially when making unplanned trips. However, one must view charging and swapping infrastructure beyond the immediate utility value. For instance, these stations can double up as refreshment centres and/or resting points for travellers on long journeys. Furthermore, repair and breakdown services could also be provided.
Where infrastructure for fixed-battery EVs is concerned, apartment residents may need to ascertain they have adequate space to install charging points. Moreover, to prevent electricity theft, these should be kept locked.
Revenues and Untapped Potential
Meanwhile, the installation of paid charging stations will benefit businesses such as shopping centres, movie theatres, workplaces and other locations where people park their cars for some time since it will generate revenue. In addition, such establishments will be more appealing to the public since it will reduce their range anxiety.
At this juncture, the country remains the world’s biggest untapped EV market, more so in the case of two-wheelers. The penetration of EVs has greatly increased over the past few years since automakers are producing more of these vehicles. Significantly, the Central Government has set an ambitious target to install 175 GW and 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 2030, respectively. Over the past few years, significant investments have sped up EV development and adoption across the country.
Going forward, the demand for EVs can be boosted by educating consumers and generating greater awareness about the benefits while dispelling myths about batteries, range anxiety, the value provided and operating costs. Finally, the biggest push will come from the Central Government as it has set an ambitious target for EVs, which will comprise 30% of all vehicles by 2030. As far as EVs are concerned, it seems the best is yet to come.