What is the better alternative for future of EVs - battery charging or battery swapping?

UPDATED SEP 17, 2021 - 10 MIN READ

In the last decade, the number of electric vehicles on the Indian roads has significantly increased. With the improving viability of technology and infrastructure, the future potential of electric vehicles is getting stronger over time. The government supports various policies and initiatives to support a wider adoption of electric vehicles as this helps the country in reducing air pollution and oil imports.

However, there are still some concerns that impact the popularity of electric vehicles in Indian markets such as cost of the vehicle, charging time and method, lack of charging infrastructure, low speed, etc.

When compared with traditional ICE vehicles, the charging mechanism in case of electric vehicles accounts for a major barrier for the customer adoption. The charging, in a way, is similar to fueling of a traditional vehicle but the difference lies with the infrastructure, convenience and time consumed. Therefore, the charging method is a major determinant in hampering the successful acceptance of electric vehicles in Indian automotive markets.

To address this concern, there is another alternative - Battery swapping. Battery swapping is a novel mechanism that solves the problem of range anxiety in a faster manner and is getting popular in the EV industry.

The battery charging system mainly consists of Charging station. It is the equipment that is used for recharging the electric vehicle by connecting it to a source of electricity. Charging station is also known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).

There are two types of plug-in charging systems - slow charging and fast charging. In slow charging system, the batteries take hours to fully charge. In the fast charging system, depending on size and specifications of battery, electric vehicles take 20-25 minutes to get charged. There are broadly Level 1, 2 and 3 charging mechanisms available.

  • Level 1 charging is simplest and is applicable for household outlets. It requires no extra installation cost and has low impact on electric utility peak demand charges. However, it is a slow charging type with typically 3-5 miles of range per hour.
  • Level 2 requires installation of setup comprising EVSE and the wiring which handle higher voltage power. This makes it a faster charging system with more efficiency as compared to Level 1 charging.
  • Level 3 which is DC fast charging, is the fastest charging system with complex charging equipment and higher installation cost. This takes 30-40 minutes to charge electric vehicle up to 80%.

All the charging systems are cost effective, economically viable and feasible. On the other hand, these charging system whether it is an AC charging system or fast DC, involve longer charging time as compared to refuelling an ICE vehicle.

The infrastructure required for a charging station needs a larger space and in case of high ambient temperature, this charging leads to degradation of the battery in due time. This makes charging as an unviable alternative for electric vehicles. Therefore, with the increasing demands and expectations in EV industry, faster charging at higher voltages and currents, infrastructure facilities and wider accessibility is much needed requirement for proliferation of electric vehicles in India.

Battery swapping mechanism allows a better alternative in achieving these requirements. Battery swapping allows replacing of exhausted battery packs with a fully charged battery packs. This almost eliminates the problem of long waiting time and takes a minimum of 2-3 minutes for the swapping of batteries.

Further, less space is required to install such facility as compared to charging stations. Battery swapping helps reducing the overall cost of electric vehicles as it allows customers to purchase the vehicle without the battery. It also permits longer trip distance without the feeling of range anxiety. Further, battery swapping increases the operating life of the vehicle.

Better alternative for future of evs

Better alternative for future of EVs

In addition to the above advantages, battery swapping offers faster establishment of Battery Swapping Station (BSS) infrastructure and at a lower cost, therefore benefitting the BSS owners. It also requires less space as compared to charging stations thus reducing the cost of real estate. The charging costs are also reduced as the batteries can be charged collectively in a proper scheduled manner as per the availability of resources at reasonable prices.

Further, advanced control strategy for bulk charging at the swapping stations slows down degradation of batteries, resulting into prolonged battery life. Lastly, battery swapping solution allows charging of multiple batteries at the same place thus ensuring uniform load demand on the grid. This also makes efficient utilization of swapping infrastructure leading better ROIs.

With battery swapping offering a lot of benefits, it also brings in operational challenges such as standardization of battery packs, reliability of leased battery pack and commercially viable model. The government and other organizations are taking initiatives for standardizing the battery packs to accept interoperability between the batteries.

For implementing large scale swapping model, interoperability between the battery packs can be achieved by standardization. Further, this standardization guarantees better performance and long life of battery packs. Secondly, security of battery packs will become a major concern during the bulk charging procedure.

Third, the management of batteries and chargers becomes very important in swapping solutions to ensure the performance of the leased battery packs. Furthermore, the high initial setup cost of battery swap stations is also a major concern for the wider adoption of swapping solution for electric vehicle automotive industry.

Experts believe that despite all the concerns mentioned above, with the innovations and research getting done in the field of battery swapping system, battery swapping will have a profitable prospects in the near future. Different automotive companies are working rigorously to meet the growing demands of swappable batteries. The Government also initiated various schemes to subsidize the cost of ownership and promote EV swapping R&D activities for the faster adoption of electric vehicles in India.

All these developments in the field of battery swappable market ensures the wider acceptability and profitability from new and improved swapping system in future.

Last but not the least, customer experience also plays a key role in deciding for the better alternative between charging and swapping. Battery swapping offers various benefits over the traditional charging systems to electric vehicle driver and improves the customer experience of managing their electric vehicle.

Esmito uses SaaS platform to offer the most comprehensive technology in battery swapping. We also provide features such as interactive display, intelligent charging, energy efficient and swap and go mechanism, which makes it as the first choice for fleet operators and two and three wheeler vehicle OEMs.

In addition, the safety of batteries is ensured by designing the batteries as locked-smart batteries for swapping model. It also ensures that these batteries will be used only by authorized energy operators. Our battery swapping software platform enables monitoring and management solution for the energy operators to monitor all business metrics for smooth management of batteries. These statics which are related to battery health, proves helpful in maximizing the battery life cycles and making it more useful to end users.