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India drafts policy on interoperable EV battery swapping

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

Credit: DIGITIMES

India's official think tank NITI Aayog has released a draft EV battery swapping policy and is inviting comments until June 5 to foster battery swapping ecosystems in the country.

NITI Aayog on April 20 released a 19-page draft policy on battery swapping on its website. The draft policy focuses on battery swapping systems for two-wheelers, which account for 70-80% of all private vehicles, and three-wheelers, which play a critical role in last-mile connectivity in cities.

According to the draft policy, the rollout of battery swapping stations will be in a phased manner. In phase one, metropolitan cities with more than four million people will be prioritized. State capitals, union territory headquarters, and cities with a population greater than 500,000 will be covered during the second phase.

NITI Aayog proposed to provide peak and off-peak differential electricity pricing for battery swap stations, revise the value-added tax rate, and reduce the tax rate difference between lithium-ion batteries (18%) and electric vehicle supply equipment (5%). NITI Aayog also recommended that the Indian government offer the same incentives to EVs without pre-equipped batteries.

Currently, because FAME II subsidies are calculated based on the battery capacity of an EV, swappable EVs without batteries are not eligible for the scheme.

NITI Aayog proposed to assign a unique identification number to each battery and battery swap station to help track and monitor them.

NITI Aayog agrees that battery swapping is still nascent in India, and business models will emerge as the market matures. Rather than mandating a rigid set of technical and operational requirements to foster interoperability, the draft policy proposed to allow for multiple distinct interoperable solutions to arise.

In February, India's Ministry of Finance first announced an interoperable battery swapping policy. According to NITI Aayog, swappable battery ecosystems help lower the up-front cost of buying an EV, reduce the mileage anxiety, and maximize the use of batteries during their usable lifetime.

Currently, there is no commercial scale for EV battery swapping systems. Electric two-wheeler brand Bounce provides pay-per-swap service for its battery swappable EV. Hero MotoCorp has yet to launch its swappable EV with Gogoro. Honda is betting its Mobile Power Pack e: (MPP e:) to cut into the Indian electric three-wheeler market. Sun Mobility partners with Japan-based electric three-wheeler manufacturer Terra Motors on battery swapping solutions for Terra Motors' EVs.

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