Electric two-wheeler sales on the rise but where is the charging infra?

Lack of standardisation also poses challenges as the EV sector continues to evolve

lectrix K Vijaya Kumar, MD & CEO, Lectrix EV, during the launch of the electric scooters

Another day, another electric vehicle launch. As Lectrix, the EV division of the power-to-telcom SAR Group, introduced its new electric two-wheeler scooter at an upscale hotel in the national capital, the question that is the crux of the whole go-EV-or-remain-ICE debate popped up again—what about the dire need for charging infra in the country?

While the two models that Lectrix is launching nationwide, the LXS G2.0 and LXS G3.0, can both be plugged and charged at home (like all the electric two-wheelers in the country which work on a combo of plug-and-charge or battery swap model), company MD and CEO K. Vijaya Kumar admits it’s a challenge.

“Charging infra in the country needs to be developed. The government is working on it and discussing with the industry,” he said in an interview with THE WEEK. However, he admitted that there are challenges. If compared to as many number of petrol pumps, it is a different level of penetration and requirement that you are looking at.”

According to a CII report earlier this week, India may require at least 13 lakh charging stations by 2030 to support aggressive EV uptake. Or to break it down, 4 lakh charges every year.

It is no hyperbole. In 2023, electric two-wheeler sales hit an inflection point, tripling in numbers to nearly 8.5 lakh, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). As Vipin Sondhi, former MD & CEO of Ashok Leyland and JCB, said, “The government has set the ball rolling on accelerated adoption of TVs, aging to achieve sales penetration of 30 per cent for cars and 80 per cent for two- and three-wheelers by 2030. This presents a huge opportunity for the Indian industry.”

But where are the charging points on this highway to electrification?

While the CII report paints an optimistic picture of the sheer extent of the requirement will provide the economics of scale needed to turn India into a global manufacturing hub for charging stations, reality can be a bit dampener — while firms like Freecharge, Tata Power and even EV makers like Ather have been putting up charging infrastructure across Indian cities, it has almost been like drops in the ocean.

Lack of standardisation is another hurdle. “There is a lack of information about which type of charger charge point operators (CPOs) should invest in, given the variety of brands available,” pointed out Avinash Sharma, co-founder and CEO of ElectricPe, an EV charging platform. “Customers are confused by the need to access multiple apps to find charging points, leading to fragmented demand across 20+ platforms,” he added.

The evolving nature of the sector is another impediment. Vijaya Kumar of Lectrix said, “It’s too early to get to that level of standardisation. The industry is still maturing itself, the battery technology is changing, battery algorithms are changing, based on that the controller has to change, the charger to change - so the ecosystem needs to be mature enough and stabilised.”

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