Gadkari says government still deliberating battery-swapping policy guidelines

"NITI Aayog continues to hold stakeholder discussions with a diverse range of stakeholders, including battery swapping operators, battery manufacturers, vehicle OEMs, financial institutions, think tanks, and other experts," Gadkari noted.

By Amit Vijay M calendar 06 Dec 2023 Views icon4291 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Gadkari says government still deliberating battery-swapping policy guidelines

Even though Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the India battery swapping policy draft 18 months ago, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has said that the government is still deliberating battery-swapping policy guidelines as it is talking to various stakeholders regarding finalising the finer details of the battery swapping final policy guidelines. 

Gadkari stated this as a part of his response during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha Parliament's Winter session debate. 

Members of the Lok Sabha questioned Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari about whether OEM battery standardisation and interoperability remain a challenge for the country's battery swapping policy implementation, and if so, whether the government could share the challenges and potential solutions.

In response to the questions, Gadkari stated that battery swapping plays an important role in augmenting the growth of electric vehicles in the country. Gadkari stated in his written response that NITI Aayog held an interministerial discussion in February 2022 to develop a draft policy framework for two- and three-wheeler battery swapping. He went on to add that battery swapping is already in place in India and that the country is seeing an increase in the number of swapping stations.

"NITI Aayog continues to hold stakeholder discussions with a diverse range of stakeholders, including battery swapping operators, battery manufacturers, vehicle OEMs, financial institutions, think tanks, and other experts," Gadkari noted.

"Electric Vehicles' battery ecosystem is a complex domain involving a variety of technologies which are still evolving. To have a prudent policy in place for battery swapping that promotes electric vehicles without adversely impacting technological innovation, more deliberations on the draft policy are being done by NITI Aayog, the Bureau of Indian Standards, the Department of Science and Technology, and other stakeholder departments," Gadkari elaborated in his written response.

According to government sources, senior officials in the Ministry of Heavy Industries are focusing on developing technical specifications, safety standards, and the logistics of implementing interoperable battery-swapping technology to develop compatibility across various electric vehicle (EV) models and charging stations.

However, the industry is very keen that the standardisation clause be removed and will not work for the industry. Pulkit Khurana, co-founder of Gurgaon-based Battery Smart, told Autocar Professional that the growth of battery-swapping services has presented complex challenges.

"The desire for battery swapping to resemble a fuel station network with strict standardisation may potentially stifle innovation and overlook challenges associated with the exchange of assets (batteries) among different service providers," Khurana said.

Nikhil Bhatia, the Co-founder of Jaipur-based electric motorcycle manufacturer Hop Electric, also told Autocar Professional that the government recognises the industry's challenges and that the goal of stakeholder consultation is to get everyone on the same page, and agree to discuss the challenges.”

The draft policy includes safety requirements, the implementation of a unique identification number for battery identification, battery monitoring and traceability systems, and recycling and refurbishment procedures, to name a few of the measures proposed.

By allowing owners to quickly swap out depleted batteries for fully charged ones, battery swapping alleviates EV range anxiety.

The battery-swapping plan was first mentioned by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her Budget speech in February 2022, and Niti Aayog quickly issued a draft policy in April of the same year.

Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, Founder and Executive Director of the India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA), also stated that the industry is eager to collaborate with the government to develop common protocols, telling Autocar Professional, "We plan to engage constructively regarding the establishment of uniform platforms so consumers can benefit from the standards."

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