Electric Vehicles: NITI Aayog Releases Draft Battery Swapping Policy

This Policy underlines the importance of re-use of end-of-first-life swappable batteries and recycling of end-of-life batteries

At the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) summit held in Glasgow in November last year, India committed to reduce carbon emission intensity by 45%, and take its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030 and meet 50% of the country's energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030, and finally achieve the Net Zero target by 2070.

To meet these targets on-time, clean mobility - led by electric vehicles (EVs) - is paramount for India and electric mobility represents a viable option to meet these commitments, while packed with innovative business solutions, appropriate technology, and support infrastructure. Several supporting initiatives have been implemented, such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric (Hybrid) Vehicles in India (FAME) I and II, and the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) for National Programme on Advanced Cell (ACC) Battery Storage (NPACC), to boost indigenous battery manufacturing capacity.

To recall, in February 2022, NITI Aayog held an inter-ministerial discussion to formulate a robust and comprehensive Battery Swapping policy framework. NITI Aayog also held an extensive pre-draft stakeholder discussion with a wide spectrum of stakeholders representing Battery Swapping Operators, Battery Manufacturers, Vehicle OEMs, Financial Institutions, CSOs, Think Tanks and other experts.

While the upfront costs for EVs are typically higher than internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, these are offset by lower operations and maintenance costs over its lifetime which has brought the total cost of ownership of electric vehicles at par with ICE vehicles.

Battery swapping is an alternative which involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones. Battery Swapping de-links the vehicle and fuel (Battery in this case) and hence reduces the upfront cost of the vehicles. Battery swapping is popularly used for smaller vehicles such as 2 and 3 wheelers which have smaller batteries that are easier to swap compared to other automotive segments wherein the same can be implemented mechanically.

Battery swapping stations require less space than public charging stations for a given number of vehicles served, due to a quicker turnaround time per vehicle.

Thus, battery swapping offers three key advantages relative to charging --- Time, Space, and Cost Efficient, provided each swappable battery is actively used. Further, Battery Swapping provides level playing field to innovative and sustainable business models such as ‘Battery As a Service’.

Considering the constraint of space in urban areas for setting up charging stations at scale, Hon’ble Finance Minister in her Budget Speech 2022-23 announced that the Government will be introducing Battery Swapping policy and interoperability standards in order to improve efficiency in the EV Ecosystem.

In a latest now, NITI Aayog has drafted the Battery Swapping Policy. One may review the draft Battery Swapping Policy here. All the stakeholders are requested to submit their comments latest by 5th June 2022. One may submit the views in the google form here.

The target vehicle segments for battery swapping are e-2Ws and e-3Ws, which are heavily concentrated in urban areas.

Key Points of Battery Swapping Policy Drafted

  • Any individual or entity is free to set up a battery swapping station at any location, provided that the specified technical, safety and performance standards are adhered to. 
  • Transport Departments and State Transport Authorities are responsible for easing registration processes for vehicles sold without batteries or for vehicles with battery swapping functionality.
  • The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), the Central Nodal Agency responsible for the rollout of EV public charging infrastructure, will be responsible for the implementation of battery swapping networks across the country. 
  • States or local authorities may mandate that the required licenses and approvals should be expedited and provided within 5 days of application, through the single window in digital format. 
  • Charging of swappable batteries at other places like kirana stores, commercial or private properties and other such facilities using existing electricity connections will attract tariffs set by the appropriate Commissions for those consumer types.
  • Metropolitan cities with a population greater than 4 million (as per Census 2011) will be prioritized for development of battery swapping networks under the first phase.
This Policy is targeted at supporting the adoption of battery-swapping primarily for battery swapping systems destined to be used for light electric power train vehicles (LEV) of category L, and E-Rickshaw/ECart.

In addition, state governments are developing complementary policies to promote EV adoption.


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