Experts seek relaxation of power and land rules as well as sops for fast-charging infrastructure 

Government officials, particularly from the Ministry of Power, have been holding regular consultations with companies operating in the electric vehicle (EV) sector to encourage interoperability among battery charging standards. Senior executives within the EV industry have confirmed that these discussions have been ongoing for several months. However, no specific rules or policies have been created yet concerning fast-charging facilities. Industry leaders recommend streamlined regulations regarding power and land usage, along with targeted subsidies for fast-charging infrastructure, to incentivize the establishment of these facilities and drive the adoption of EVs.

India is gradually transitioning from fast-charging protocols like DC-001, mainly used for light commercial vehicles, to the newer European Combined Charging System 2 (CCS-2), which is widely used for private vehicles and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Additionally, some vehicles use alternative protocols such as the Japanese CHArge de MOve (CHAde-MO). While DC-001 offers voltages of up to 72 volts, CCS-2 delivers higher voltages of 300 volts and above.

Last March, the government announced an ₹800 crore subsidy for state-run oil marketing companies to establish 7,432 EV charging stations. However, the subsidy was exclusively for chargers using the CCS protocol, despite many EVs still not utilizing the more expensive CCS charging. The government refrains from mandating a specific protocol for EV charging infrastructure, instead opting for a less prescriptive and more consultative approach given the fragmented market, which could impede EV adoption. The expectation is that private players will advocate for interoperability.

Interoperability initiatives also extend to two-wheelers, with Ola Electric following the Type-6 standard, while rival Ather Energy utilizes the Light Electric Combined Charging System (LECCS). According to multiple industry executives, just over 10% of all charging activity across commercial and private vehicles uses fast chargers. Fast chargers offer various benefits, including alleviating range anxiety, minimizing charging station dwell times, and catering to customers without home charging facilities.

Vignesh Reviraj, head of product (ecosystem) at Ather Energy, emphasized that for commercial vehicles, fast charging can enhance asset utilization. Frequent fast charging sessions can optimize EV utilization by reducing charging durations, as batteries degrade over time.

Achieving interoperability poses challenges, as it requires standardization across hardware, equipment, battery management software, customer apps, and payment systems. For instance, Ather relinquished patents for its LECCS charging connector, developed in-house, for broader usage. The connector received approval as an open-source standard from the Bureau of Indian Standards in September last year, facilitating greater compatibility and interoperability within the EV charging ecosystem.

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