Smart AC charge point operated with a smartphone; government aims for global breakthrough in affordable EV charging infrastructure
The Indian government is all set to roll out a new low-cost AC charging point standard that will further help drive the adoption of electric vehicles by reducing the initial cost of setting up a charging point. It has set a price target of Rs 3,500 for a low-cost EV charging point.
The low-cost, EV charging initiative aims is essentially aimed at enabling adoption and extending the benefits of EVs – mainly two- and three-wheelers – to Tier 2 and 3 cities, towns and villages in India.
Given that two- and three-wheelers are the most affordable form of motorised transport in the country – they constitute around 84% of total vehicle sales – the fastest adoption of EVs is expected to be in these two segments. By 2025, forecasts expect up to 4 million of such vehicles could be sold each year, growing to almost 10 million by 2030. Therefore, according to the government, any charging solution to cater this sector must be highly scalable, easily accessible by public, support interoperability, and be affordable. Most systems developed across the globe address higher levels of power and are very expensive for wide-spread deployment.
To facilitate the growth of the EV charging ecosystem, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the government of India, in close co-ordination with the NITI Aayog team, are working on this challenge. A committee involving all the key stakeholders including EV manufacturers, auto and electronic component suppliers, power utilities, and communication service providers has worked in fast-track mode to develop specifications, prototype products, and undertake testing and validation of the proposed standards. These are to be formally issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
Aiming for a breakthrough in EV charging infrastructure
The Group had set a target price of less than Rs 3,500 ($50) for a smart AC charge point operated with a smartphone, for a global breakthrough in affordable EV charging infrastructure. Fast-track development of the standard, close working between industry and government, and diligent testing and validation has met with success.
This low-cost AC Chargepoint (LAC) allows up to 3kW of power to be drawn charging e-scooters and e-autorickshaws. The user’s smartphone will communicate with the LAC via low-power Bluetooth and links up to a back-end where transaction payment and analytics are enabled. The user’s smartphone can be used for multiple accounts and payment options.
Several Indian manufacturers are already on board to make this Charge Point Device, as per the Indian standards, with target prices starting as low as Rs 3,500. The LAC device is intended to be highly scalable and deployed in any place where a 220V 15A single phase line is available – mainly targeting parking lots of metro and railway stations, shopping malls, hospitals, office complexes, apartments and even Kirana and other shops.
The draft Indian Standard has been taken up by the BIS Committee on Electromobility Standards. A formal release of the standards is expected within next two months, after completion of field and durability trials of sample products. It is expected that a new industry sector will emerge catering to the high volume, low-cost charging infrastructure for EVs.
Dr V. Sumantran, chairman, DST-PSAO Group on Charging Infrastructure said: “When industry and government entities come together to work on national goals, remarkable progress can be achieved with speed. Furthermore, this effort brought out the talent in India for intelligent cost-innovation. Affordability constraints in India demand that we address problems keeping in mind both cost and scalability.”
Dr. Rajiv Kumar, vice-chairman, NITI Aayog, added, “The emphasis on charging points rather than costly charging stations has led to the accelerated efforts by the team for developing the LAC Charging standard for the light electric vehicles segment, as the next logical step”.
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