Battery swapping policy gets a NITI Aayog push

Representative image: A view shows a battery swapping station (AFP)
Representative image: A view shows a battery swapping station (AFP)

Summary

NITI Aayog talking to stakeholders to develop a prudent battery swapping policy: Gadkari

Amid delay in the launch of the battery swapping policy Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said that NITI Aayog is talking to all stakeholders on the draft policy to ensure that it is prudent and does not impact technological innovation.

In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said that electric vehicle battery ecosystem is a complex domain involving variety of technologies which are still evolving. He added that India’s present battery swapping practice is as per “global best practices".

“In order to have a prudent policy in place for battery swapping which promotes electric vehicles without adversely impacting technological innovation, more deliberations on the draft of the policy are being done by NITI Aayog, Bureau of Indian Standards, department of science and technology and other stakeholder departments," the minister said in the reply. 

He added that NITI Aayog continues to hold stakeholder discussion with a wide spectrum of stakeholders representing battery swapping operators, battery manufacturers, vehicle OEMs, financial institutions, think tanks and other experts.

NITI Aayog launched the draft policy in April last year suggesting interoperability and standardization of batteries. However, resistance from the industry over standardization, which mandates swappable batteries with specific set of outer dimensions to avail the incentives, has stalled the release of the final policy.

Battery swapping is an alternative to charging the electric vehicle which involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones. Battery swapping is generally used for smaller vehicles, such as two- and three-wheeler vehicles, with smaller batteries that are easier to swap compared to four-wheelers.

The minister also said: “However, the proposed policy is one of the many other policy instruments such as FAME and PLI already under implementation to promote electric vehicles in the country. Battery swapping is already operational in India and more new swapping stations are coming up every year in the country."

The draft policy said that additional standards and specifications for batteries regarding battery pack dimensions, charging connectors, among others will be notified over time with adequate notice to, and consultation with, industry stakeholders, to support a phased transition to interoperability between ecosystems.

The policy is aimed at helping India achieve its net zero goal by the ambitious deadline of 2070. Although efforts are underway to boost the availability of charging infrastructure, battery swapping is an alternative which involves exchanging discharged batteries for charged ones and provides the flexibility to charge them separately.

According to the draft policy, battery swapping de-links charging and battery usage and keeps the vehicle in operational mode with negligible downtime. 

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