The electrification of vehicles is an essential part of the global strategy to reduce carbon emissions. Over the next 20 years, it is expected that the bulk of new vehicles will be electric or hybrid. Governments are implementing incentives and regulations to encourage transition in this direction.

India is among a handful of countries that support the global EV30@30 campaign, which targets to have at least 30% new vehicle sales be electric by 2030. The shift to electric mobility provides an opportunity to improve efficiency and transform the transport sector while also helping the country addresses several issues like energy security and over-reliance on imports for fossil fuels.

Studies from NITI Aayog projects that the country can save 64% of anticipated passenger road-based and mobility-related energy demand and reduce 37% of CO2 emissions by 2030 if it pursues electric mobility in future.  This would probably result in an annual reduction of 156 MTOE (Mega Tonnes of Oil Equivalent) in diesel and petrol consumption for 2030, saving INR 3.9 lakh crores. The cumulative savings for the tenure 2017- 2030 is expected to reach 876 MToE of savings for petrol and diesel, which totals to INR22 lakh crores, and 1 gigaton of carbon-dioxide emissions offset.

Discussions about EV adoption always lands up with the familiar chicken and egg situation that arises with any innovation, and in this scenario- what should come first-EVs or Charging Infrastructure? An accessible and robust network of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is an essential pre-requisite to achieving the ambitious transition. The Government of India has instituted various policies to promote the development of the charging infrastructure network. There is also a need to customize it for the Indian ecosystem and build capacity among stakeholders to support its on-ground expansion.

Key Stakeholders

The EV ecosystem is a complex network of key stakeholders and partners. These include vehicle manufacturers, charging infrastructure providers, energy companies, local authorities, asset owners and operators. Broadly, the distribution of ownership can be categorised as follows:

  1. Government and regulators: The central and state governments as well as nodal agencies that are driving the policy levers
  2. OEMs: Along with start-ups will help identify the requirement and the trends
  3. Energy companies with the grid infrastructure that supplies electricity from the utility to the charging point
  4. Charging infrastructure providers own the charging point hardware and software
  5. Local authorities own public roads and car parks used by EVs
  6. Asset owners own properties where charging stations are located
  7. Operators manage and maintain the installed base of chargers
  8. End users/Consumers perceptions on the technologies determine their adoption trends with range anxiety of an EV being a key barrier.

Setting up commercial EV charging station business, while has a great future potential, comes with its own challenges.

A. Business Models

Installing an EV charging station requires a significant investment for equipment, installation and maintenance costs. To justify the investment, it is necessary for an EV charging station operator to manage its network efficiently for optimal utilization so that it can deliver the best value to its customers and generate revenue.  There are several business models that are being used by EV charging service providers:

  1. Free Charging: This is a basic model where users can charge their EVs for free. In this model, the charging service provider will need to bear all expenses related to capital expenditure, operation, and maintenance. This model makes sense for public authorities, energy companies, large scale private companies, restaurants/retail store looking to promote their brand as an environmentally friendly organization or to attract evolved customers.
  2. Charge per use: In this model, premise owners invest in charging station hardware, software and maintenance and charge the end-users/drivers a fee. This is relatively a simpler model where users pay only for what they use. This model is predominantly used by Charging Point Operators and other businesses who add a mark up to the unit electricity cost and create viable revenue models.
  3. Subscription Based Model: In this investment-lite model, premise owners subscribe to a monthly or yearly package where they can avail charging services at their location from service providers. The drivers pay directly to the charging point operator, who in turn pay the premise owners for the electricity consumed

B. Location

Whether you’re building a new business from the ground up or simply looking to add EV charging stations to an existing property, it’s important to choose a station location carefully; this will ensure convenient access for your customers while minimizing the impact on your business’ operations.

Availability of power (wiring, additional infra like transformer) and visibility to the consumer also play a role in zeroing in on the location.

C. Charging Station Type

Depending on where your installation is going to be, and the needs of EV drivers in your premises, you should look to install from a mix of EV charging stations ranging from AC Level 2 Charging stations to High power output DC Charging stations. If you are looking to install in premises like Residential complexes, Offices, Retail, Hotels, Educational Institutions where the drivers will leave their EV idle for 2 hours or more, it is recommended to install Level 2 (7.4 kW and above) AC Charging Stations.

On the other hand, if the EV Charging Stations are planned along Highways, or for replenishment of fuel for EV fleets, it is advised to have a mix of DC as well as AC chargers. This holds true also for scenarios where you are refueling heavy duty vehicles with large batteries.

Other factors to look at when deciding charging stations are:

  • Reliability– the stations should have a robust build quality that can withstand all outdoor and weather extremities.
  • Safety– the charging equipment should comply with the international and country level quality & safety requirements. This includes features like auto cut-off on disconnecting, proper earthing, and surge protection built in.
  • Software– the stations should be smart-connected to the internet, thus enabling remote maintenance, management & control options. With charging management software, you should get full control over customizable station settings, such as access control, pricing, reporting dashboards, diagnostics, and more.
  • Service & Maintenance – a critical aspect. The service station provider should be able to take care of service and maintenance requirements for a stipulated period. Look out for service provider who cover the hardware for full replacement warranties or come with AMC options.
  • Liability Insurance Coverage: As EV adoption gathers speed and with increased utilization of charging stations, another way to protect your investments would be to buy charging stations from service providers who provide third party insurance coverage for damage.

D. No of charging stations

This will depend on the current and future market potential of the city / town you are planning to set it up in. A market scan to understand the current and future EV  sales, courtesy the EV showrooms in your market, existing EV charging infrastructure where you can interact with the customers etc. will give you a good idea on the number of charging stations required. One can also look at the option of starting up with 1 with a scope of increasing the numbers with the growth in business.

E. Design

It’s important that your charging stations are highly visible and easily recognized. It is extremely important that the charging space is well designed, properly marked, with round the clock access, to provide a seamless customer experience. This will play a critical role in building a customer base right from the beginning of operations.

Endnote: Whether you’re a business offering charging facilities to your customers or a utilizing electric mobility for fleets, installing EV chargers on your premises shows your company is choosing to go green. EV charging can be part of a larger sustainability goal. This in turn allows certain businesses to gain industry-recognized sustainability qualifications, such as IGBC/LEED certification.