Battery Swapping to Lead to Growth of Electric Vehicles in India, WEF Advisor Says


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“


Rahul Trivedi

Rahul Trivedi



Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

india, india, world economic forum, world economic forum (wef), road safety, electric vehicles, electric vehicles, road accident, road accident, interviews

The National Highway for Electric Vehicles (NHEV) is an organization which aims at promoting the electrification of India’s transportation systems. It is the country’s first prototype intercity e-mobility program to facilitate EODB (Ease of Doing Business) through SWC (Single Window Clearance) under the Federal Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

The electric vehicle ecosystem in India is still at a very nascent stage, but the number of electric vehicles on Indian roads is on the rise every day.

Despite the growth, there are a lot of challenges that need to be addressed with regard to the EV infrastructure.

Road safety is one of the major concerns, as the country ranks first in terms of number of road accident deaths in the world. Last year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the Road Safety 2.0 program in India with an aim to introduce technology which would promote the 4Es of road safety i.e. Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Emergency care.

In an interview with Sputnik, Akhilesh Srivastava, Project Head of the World Economic Forum’s Road Safety 2.0 program and Member of the NHEV Knowledge group, talked about measures to be taken to ensure road safety in India and discussed the challenges presented by the battery swapping policy in India.

Sputnik: According to government data, India ranks first in the number of road accident deaths in the world. As you lead the World Economic Forum’s initiative Road Safety 2.0 in India, what measures are required to reduce such fatalities?

Akhilesh Srivastava: With 11 percent of global road fatalities, India ranks worst in terms of the sheer number of road accident deaths in the world. The impact of road accidents on Indian GDP is nearly INR 2.5 trillion ($31.7 billion) i.e., over 1.85 percent of the GDP.

It is clear that old or conventional methods of road safety are not working and there is an urgent need for a new solution. The WEF-led Road Safety 2.0 is one such next-gen solution, where the power of technology is leveraged to save lives on roads.

A few of the measures have been enumerated in it are: the use of technology is the best way to quickly and effectively reduce accidents; сontinuous tracking driving behavior using IoT to generate Safe Driving Scores. The SDS can be used as a monitoring mechanism for incentivizing good driving behavior and reskilling the bad drivers; use of Safety measures like seat belt and helmet with sensors attached; use of AI with the integration of Traffic Lights; implementation of ITS-based penalty set up to penalize people; scaling awareness about the regulations among the people;

Sputnik: WEF’s Road Safety 2.0 talks about an approach to create a human-centric road ecosystem. Could you elaborate what sort of road ecosystem it aims to create?

Akhilesh Srivastava: Human-centric design is a method of product creation that places the requirements, desires, and abilities of users at the forefront of the process. Rather than expecting users to change and conform their behaviors to the product, it involves making design decisions based on how people can, need, and want to do tasks.

Moving on from existing to a human-centric road ecosystem will help the highway builders, manufacturing industry and the enforcement agencies tackle the needs of the people and then accordingly devise the road safety setup and create a human-centric road ecosystem.

For Example, the presence of air bags in the car is for the drivers and passengers’ safety. Why only the front seat should have air bags, people in the back seats are equally vulnerable. As per the human-centric approach, the seat belt should be for all humans in the vehicle. All seats in private vehicles like cars and for all passengers in long-distance public transport buses.

Pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users should be given due space and weightage while framing the policies. In India, pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheelers constitute the majority but the roads and road rules, are made keeping in mind the bigger vehicles.

Sputnik: FASTags in India were adopted to make travel seamless on National Highways and Expressways. However, despite the complete roll-out we see long queues of vehicles at toll plazas and technical glitches being reported. How can an effective and glitch-free usage of FASTags be adopted?

Akhilesh Srivastava: FASTag has made travel hassle-free on highways and expressways in India. There are no queues. FASTag has made tolling very efficient and transparent. Last year’s toll collection was the highest ever at nearly INR 400 billion (Over $5 million)

Apart from this, the FASTag has saved fuel wastage of worth over INR 200 billion ($2.5 million) which happened due to idling of vehicles at toll plazas. It also resulted in saving at least 50 million MT of carbon emission.

Sputnik: Regarding the electric vehicle segment, it is a well-known fact that in India it is at a very nascent stage. What are the major challenges that stakeholders are facing and how can they be tackled?

Akhilesh Srivastava: With 100 percent FDI available, new production centres, and a greater push to improve charging infrastructure, India’s electric vehicle industry is gaining traction.

Other growth factors for the Indian EV industry include federal subsidies and policies supporting deeper discounts for Indian-made electric two-wheelers, as well as a boost for localized ACC battery storage manufacture.

Furthermore, in September 2021, the federal government authorized a production-linked incentive program for the automotive sector to stimulate the manufacture of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In 2021, India sold over 300,000 electric vehicles.

Some of the challenges that exist but are being tackled by the stakeholders are: inadequate charging infrastructure; reliance on battery imports; reliance on imported components and parts, range anxiety among consumers; current high price of EVs; lack of options for high-performance EVs; inadequate electricity supply in parts of India; lack of quality maintenance and repair options.

Sputnik: You have links with the NHEV (National Highway for Electric Vehicle) programme. What initiatives are being taken under the programme to expand EV infrastructure?

Akhilesh Srivastava: Yes, I appreciate this question which talks about Electric Vehicles and being a member of the Knowledge group of NHEV, I wish similar kind of road safety in India, however, some additional concerns are to be kept in mind are:

• The EV is directly connected to a regular household power outlet. This mode is the simplest possible charging mode and does not support any communication between the EV and the charge point, hence it is prohibited in many countries due to safety concerns.

• The onboard charger converts AC to DC. It uses a special type of charging cable equipped with an in-cable control and protection device. This can be used for private charging, but its public use is subject to restrictions in many countries.

• Batteries are the key element. And we noticed a few cases of fire recently. There should be a proper set of technical and regulatory guidelines for the batteries, about its specifications, unique Id number of batteries, uniformity in the charging system, and even uniformity in batteries so that battery swapping can be done easily.

Tracking of batteries can give alerts about the health of batteries so that unsafe batteries can be removed timely.

Sputnik: Ever since the Finance Minister announced the battery swapping policy, it has been a much talked about topic across the segment. Do you think it can be realized?

Akhilesh Srivastava: I appreciate the announcement by Finance Minister about the battery swapping policy. A detailed policy for battery standardization, specifications, and safety protocols is being prepared.

We should think of the battery as a service for battery swapping. This will allow the setting up of battery stations on a mass level; a battery swapping policy will be brought in and interoperability standards will be formulated.

The private players should be encouraged to develop sustainable and innovative models for the battery as a service which will increase efficiency in the electric vehicle ecosystem. This will reduce the cost of Electric Vehicles and give impetus for electric vehicle growth in the coming years.

Sputnik: Electric vehicles are an alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles, and commonly seen as a way to reduce carbon emissions. However, the source of electricity remains non-renewable, so what roadmap has the NHEV adopted to generate electricity for the electric vehicles through renewable sources?

Akhilesh Srivastava: The transport sector accounts for 18 percent of total energy consumption in India. This translates to an estimated 94 million tons of oil equivalent (MTOE) energy.

If India were to follow the current trends of energy consumption, it would require an estimated 200 MTOE of energy supply annually, by the year 2030 to meet the demand of this sector. As of now, this demand is being met mostly through imported crude oil, which therefore makes this sector vulnerable to volatile international crude oil prices. Moreover, the sector also contributes an estimated 142 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Electric mobility presents a viable alternative in addressing these challenges, when packaged with innovative pricing solutions, appropriate technology and support infrastructure and thus, has been on the radar of the Government of India.

The point of renewability of electricity is being addressed too with renewable energies like solar energy, wind energy and other forms other renewable sources of energy. The growth of India in this has been spectacular and the country is ahead of many developed countries in this regard.

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Sputnik India: Battery Swapping to Lead to Growth of Electric Vehicles in India, WEF Advisor Says

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