The transportation sector accounts for 14% of India’s CO2 emissions, and 90% of emissions and energy consumption from transportation are attributed to vehicles. According to the Centre for Science & Environment, vehicles contribute to 17% of overall air pollution in Delhi. It is therefore important to address vehicular emissions, especially in a fast-developing country such as India, where vehicles will continue to grow with rising affluence and growing aspirations of Indians.
There is a global consensus that EVs offer the most optimal solution to combat vehicular emissions, thanks to zero tailpipe emissions, and highly-efficient conversion of grid power. With a rapidly increasing share of renewable energy in India’s grid, EVs indicate a roadmap towards net zero mobility. Therefore, accelerating the shift to EVs is imperative for India.
Charging Infrastructure – Critical Enabler
India is among the most rapidly expanding EV markets today, with a total EV adoption of 28 lakh vehicles, encompassing 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, cars, and electric buses across the country. Over one lakh EV cars and SUVs were purchased in the last 18 months alone, with 75% of EV owners using their vehicles as a primary mode of transport, with the average EV being driven 26 days a month.
There are EVs plying across all states in India but they still account for less than 2% of new car sales. The Government has set an audacious target to transition 30% of new car sales to EVs by 2030, which implies roughly a 20x growth in EV volumes from the current levels. Case studies from across the world show that ubiquitous and convenient charging infrastructure is a pre-requisite for driving EV adoption. Conversely, growth in charging infrastructure results in exponential growth in EV adoption. Therefore, as India strides boldly into the era of electric vehicles (EVs), accelerating the growth of charging infrastructure becomes a critical imperative.
Charging Patterns – Home is where the charging happens
Understanding how people charge their EVs is crucial for developing an optimal charging network. Telematics data retrieved from Tata EVs show that 93% of EV charging occurs at home and primarily overnight, which aligns well with people’s daily routines. This statistic also highlights that early EV adoption in India was primarily driven by individuals with dedicated parking spaces at home, who enjoy the convenience of charging at home. Deeper adoption of EVs in line with reaching 30% EV penetration requires solutions also for those EV intenders without dedicated, covered parking at home. This includes renters who would not easily get permission from landlords to install chargers in their parking spaces.
Community Chargers: The Game-Changer
As India’s EV adoption grows to 30%, it will become imperative for apartment communities/ Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) in major cities to take the lead to set up common chargers for use by their residents. These “Community Chargers,” installed in common parking spaces within RWA premises, allow any resident to seamlessly charge and pay using an app or an RFID. A single Community Charger in an RWA can serve up to 5 EVs, as most EVs will only need to charge 1-2 times a week.
Community Chargers will save significant wiring costs for RWAs and residents. In addition, the installation of a Community Charger can come at no cost to the RWA, as several Charge Point Operators (CPOs) are happy to install Community Chargers without seeking any chargers from the RWA, as they can earn from the charging tariff set on the Community Chargers. In addition, if the RWA so desires, Community Chargers can also become a source of revenue for the RWA through service fees/ revenue sharing on charging tariffs.
For real estate developers, enabling Community Charging in new buildings will make them EV-ready, and open the building up to a range of highly sophisticated and modern EV buyers.
Community Chargers are also convenient and beneficial to EV owners. For example, Community Chargers in many cities are permitted to have their own electricity meter, which would make power available at a concessional EV charging tariff, which is often lower than the domestic tariff paid by EV owners. In addition, renters and EV intenders with open/ stacked parking can leverage the Community Chargers in their RWA premises, and thus can go EV without worrying about charging at home. Finally, with a Community Charger installed on campus, residents can choose to buy an EV without wondering if their RWA would approve/ object to the installation of chargers in parking lots.
Thus, Community Chargers offer a win-win-win solution for all stakeholders in the EV ecosystem.
Catalysing Change: Community Chargers as Transformers
Community Charging emerges as a practical solution to driving EV adoption, by bringing scalable, convenient charging infra right to an EV intender’s doorstep. The journey from less than 2% EV adoption to 30% this decade requires collaborative ecosystem efforts, with Community Charging at the forefront of this transformative shift. RWAs, building developers, and CPOs should come together to drive Community Chargers to pave the way for the next wave of exponential growth of EVs in India, and thus contribute significantly to reducing emissions in India.
Balaje Rajan is the Chief Strategy Officer, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility and Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles. Views expressed are those of the author.