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Last Updated : Jul 11, 2019 06:26 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Centre pushing for electric vehicles but what about the charging infra

Companies who are in advanced stages of developing and launching electric vehicles have taken it upon themselves to set up charging stations

Swaraj Baggonkar @swarajsb

Less than a week after the Finance Ministry proposed incentives and rate cuts on electric vehicles and its allied industry, Hyundai Motor, the country’s second largest carmaker, launched its first all-electric car Kona in India.

Boasting a certified range of 450 km, the Kona, priced at Rs 25 lakh, will be launched in only 15 dealerships (less than two percent of Hyundai’s pan-India dealership strength) across 11 cities.

One of the reasons behind a restricted retail reach may not be the higher price of the Kona (brands like Mercedes, BMW and Audi have penetrated Tier III cities), but the lack of charging infrastructure beyond the big cities.

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Companies, which are in advanced stages of developing and launching electric vehicles, have taken it upon themselves to set up charging stations. Automotive companies like MG Motors, Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki have envisaged interest in installing charging stations.

Non-vehicle making companies like Tata Power, Tata AutoComp, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) have also committed to setting up charging infrastructure.

The Centre is planning to tap into the existing real estate at fuel stations and convert them to EV charging ones, as per a roadmap shared by it. There are more than 60,000 such fuel stations across the country. Though there is no talk over the kind of chargers that will be installed at such stations, experts say the whole exercise will be futile if DC (direct current) chargers are not used.

DC chargers (also known as fast chargers) can charge an EV up to 80 percent in less than one hour. AC Chargers (also known as slow chargers) take 6-8 hours for the same. At Rs 5-9 lakh, DC Chargers costs 13-20 times more than AC Chargers at Rs 25,000-65,000.

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“It takes around 10 minutes to refuel today, including the act of actual fuel filling which hardly takes two minutes. Every electric car charged through a DC charger will take a minimum of 15 minutes for a drive range of 30-50 km. Now, imagine the serpentine queues for it,” said a top Delhi-based automotive executive.

Without waiting for the government to install charging stations, automotive companies are asking their dealerships to invest in installing DC chargers at services centres and showrooms. SAIC-owned MG Motors will set-up charging stations in Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru by September, just in time before launching the eZS electric vehicle.

Rajeev Chaba, President and Managing Director, MG Motor India, said, “The upcoming launch of MG eZs is aligned with the government’s long-term objective to have more EVs on the road in the next few years. We are delighted to partner Fortum, one of the leading EV charging service provider in the global EV space, to set-up charging stations at MG dealerships in select cities to begin with.”

Hyundai is working with state-owned IOC to develop infrastructure at select fuel stations in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. Hyundai will invest on the equipment and installation of these fast chargers. In addition, some of Hyundai’s dealerships will also have charging stations.

SS Kim, MD and CEO, Hyundai Motor India, said, “We will do our best to contribute more on charging infrastructure for electrification of the auto industry. The charging industry is a different industry altogether. We will do something meaningful to secure some charging infrastructure for not only Hyundai but customers of other brands as well."

Each customer of the Hyundai Kona will be provided with two chargers – a portable charger and an AC wall box charger. The portable charger can be plugged into any normal three-pin 15-amp socket. This charger can top-up the car to run 50 km in less than three hours. Whereas AC wall box charger can top-up the vehicle within an hour for running the same distance.

The fast chargers supplied along with the Kona at an additional cost of Rs 9 lakh can charge the vehicle in under one hour by 80 percent. The slow charger takes little over six hours for the same level of charging.

“The biggest issue with regards to setting up a charging station, especially a fast charger, is the fluctuation in current. Even though big cities like Mumbai and Delhi do not experience fluctuations, the situation in Tier II and III cities gets very bad. We don’t even have to talk about villages here. Such fluctuations can damage the chargers,” said an executive of Mass-Tech Controls, the leaders in DC chargers.
First Published on Jul 11, 2019 02:25 pm
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