EV Battery Swapping

News: NITI Aayog is holding a consultation on the upcoming electric vehicle (EV) battery swapping policy.

What is BaaS?

  • Battery-as-a-service (BaaS) is seen as a viable charging alternative. Manufacturers can sell EVs in two forms: Vehicles with fixed or removable batteries and vehicles with batteries on lease.
  • If you buy an electric scooter with battery leasing, you do not pay for the cost of the battery—that makes the initial acquisition almost 40% cheaper. Users can swap drained batteries for a fully charged one at a swap station. The depleted batteries are then charged on or off-site. The advantages of swapping include low downtimes for commercial fleets, reduced space requirements, and lower upfront costs.
  • It is also a viable solution for those who don’t have parking spots at home.

Battery Interoperability:

  • That’s when a battery is compatible across vehicles and chargers, so you can seamlessly swap a battery at any swap station. This can help achieve scale.
  • However, manufacturer and service providers say there are safety concerns around the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model and caution too much standardization can kill innovation.
  • There are economic and operational constraints. Energy service providers offering swapping solutions have to charge 18% goods and services tax (GST) for swapping, compared to 5% GST on the purchase of an EV.
  • Additionally, the government’s FAME-II incentives are not offered to vehicles sold with BaaS or swap station operators. While these are economic disadvantages compared to direct charging solutions, the lack of a dense and interoperable battery swap infrastructure has also hindered the roll-out.
  • Manufacturers, on the other hand, are keen to create proprietary battery and charging systems.

Issues:

  • There is a need for standardization of safety specifications as well as the battery.
  • Swapping in the various permutations and combinations of batteries at a station where they have not been tested for compatibility could lead to safety hazards. Also, mandating only one type of battery to be eligible for concessions would be disadvantageous to many players.

Significance:

  • An EV, by industry standards, is 1.5-2x costlier than IC Engine counterpart and at least half the cost is from the battery pack.
  • Many manufacturers are offering batteries separately from a vehicle, reducing the cost. In that case, a fleet owner can buy vehicles without battery and utilize battery swapping.
  • Another major reason stopping people from buying EVs is range anxiety, or in simple terms, the fear of battery getting empty without finding a charging station.
  • Unlike petrol pumps, EV charging stations are rare to spot and that further increases the range anxiety exponentially, especially while going on a road trip.
  • In case of a Swapping Station, one can simply locate a station, go and replace the empty battery with a new one.