Battery Swapping Infrastructure – An OverviewUPDATED OCT 01, 2021 - 15 MIN READ
Topic of Contents
- • Introduction to battery swapping
- • Key components of battery swapping infrastructure
- • Battery swapping operation and its techniques
- • Concerns around the battery swapping technology
- • Future of battery swapping in India
- • Glossary
Introduction to battery swapping
Battery swapping is emerging as an excellent alternative to the battery charging infrastructure in the e-mobility industry. One of the major reasons for the wide acceptance of this technology is the significant reduction in the ownership cost of electric vehicles. The battery swapping mechanism allows the sale and registration of EV’s without any batteries.
In this method, the battery is considered as a separate entity from the electric vehicle and the complete liability of these batteries is with energy service providers. Therefore, battery swapping technology, on one hand, brings benefits for the EV consumers and on the other hand, it calls for a lot of business and job opportunities in the EV ecosystem.
Battery swapping technology also helps address the other major concerns associated with the conventional charging methods. These concerns are the long charging time for electric vehicles and lack of charging infrastructure.
Battery swapping allows an easy exchange of discharged batteries with the fully charged ones. The batteries can be swapped either manually or through a mechanical robotic arrangement at the swap stations. Therefore, this procedure takes only a few minutes for the EV driver to switch the discharged batteries with the charged ones at any swapping station. Moreover, this method is more pocket friendly for the consumers as they have to pay on a per swap basis.
Key components of battery swapping infrastructure
1. Battery swapping station -
A battery swapping and charging station works as an energy refueling station. In the battery swapping mechanism, the first task is the swapping of discharged or partially charged batteries with the fully charged batteries at the Battery Swapping Station (BSS). The second task involves the electric recharging of the depleted batteries at the Battery Charging Station . (BCS).
The EV driver can exchange their discharged batteries as per the sequence of their arrival at the swapping station. The discharged batteries can be charged either at the same location or at a distant location. The bulk charging facility at a distant location employs a logistics system for the transportation of these batteries. Therefore, the combination of battery charging station and battery swapping station serves as a base for the battery swapping systems.
The critical characteristic of the battery swapping system is its ability to self-serve conveniently. This involves an efficient charging mechanism, which has simple digital authentication combined with seamless digital payment, thus making the complete process extremely effortless.
2. Power grid system -
A reliable power distribution system is needed for a well-controlled charging of multiple batteries at same time and place. The grid system should be intelligent enough to supply high energy to the charger and at the same time, it has to compensate for all the expected fluctuations. The provision for collective charging of batteries at the same place, act as a good load balancer for the grid. The bulk charging facility also ensures the uniform load demand on the grid by managing the battery charging schedule accordingly.
3. Energy operators -
Energy operators provide the batteries to EV drivers on leasing model. Energy operators provide outlets where EV users can visit as their battery get discharged and swap with a charged battery. Energy operator owns the batteries and has a network of battery stations where EV users are charged on per use bass.
4. Battery swapping solution -
For the smooth functioning of a battery swapping operation, an efficient communication between the different components of the system is needed. Battery swapping solution makes use of software to ensure seamless connectivity between the vehicle, battery, driver and chargers linked through cloud connectivity. This communication ensures interoperability between all the components. In addition, all this information is recorded and accessible to the authorities as well as EV drivers to achieve high performance from the electric vehicle and its respective counterparts.
Fig: Esmito Battery Swapping Solution
Esmito is among the top battery swapping solution companies that provide swapping solutions by its IoT enabled, cloud-based software and integrated battery swapping technology. Esmito’s smart battery swapping stations also come with a virtual locking of batteries via our proprietary battery swapping protocol. Esmito also offers battery swapping software platform which enables the energy operator to monitor all business metrics in a single dashboard. The cloud-based platform tracks battery health and assures long lifecycle making it more economical to end users. The company's smart battery swapping stations are available for both electric two wheeler and electric three wheeler applications.
5. Electric vehicle and battery -
In the swapping technology, the battery need to be separated from the electric vehicle for each swapping operation. So, the security of battery is a prime concern for a stable business for the concerned service providers. To ensure the safety of batteries, the swappable batteries are designed as locked-smart batteries (LS- Batteries). This locking mechanism allows charging of these batteries by an authorized charger of the energy operator only. In addition, these batteries will not be usable in any vehicle other than the one it is swapped-in.
The battery swapping system also offers additional benefit of proper disposal and recycling of used up batteries.
Fig: LS VBCC Protocol Suite
LS VBCC (Locked Smart-Vehicle Battery Charger Cloud) protocol suite is designed by Centre of Battery Engineering and Electric Vehicle –IIT Madras with some EV industry participants. This protocol suite defines specifications for the swapping architecture and its components such as vehicle battery charger and user. For the communication among all the components, the communication protocol is also defined within this protocol.
EV user -
With intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) and other advanced features incorporated in the swapping process, the EV user gets the updates about the energy level of the battery. In addition, the information related to battery health, battery life-cycles, failure predictions, battery charged status, nearest swapping station, available time slot, cost per swap, online payment, etc. gives user an excellent EV experience.
Battery swapping operation and its techniques
The advanced features incorporated in the battery swapping system, include notifying EV driver about the left out charge in the battery, nearest swapping station, time to reach the swapping station and booking a slot online for battery swapping service. The information system also updates the station records for a new battery swapping service requested.
On reaching the swap station, the EV driver provides the relevant information and all the details regarding the battery, vehicle, previous battery swaps and payments can then be located on the database accordingly. The verification process is then initiated and on the completion of successful verification, the exchange of batteries takes place. After the swapping procedure, the database updates the information about the battery SoC, SoH, number of charging and discharging cycles etc. and the swap charges can be calculated accordingly. The EV user will be informed about the charges for the swapping facility availed and he can then pay on per-use-basis.
For the swapping procedure, there are four different techniques available for the placement of swappable batteries. These techniques depend on position of the battery pack in the electric vehicle and swapping arrangements at the station. The four techniques are:
1. Top swapping -
In this technique, the swappable batteries are placed at the top of the vehicle and the robotic arrangement replaces the discharged batteries with the charged ones from the top. This arrangement is suitable of heavy duty electric vehicles (HEV).
2. Bottom swapping -
This technique allows the replacement of the swappable batteries from the bottom. As the bottom area of the vehicle opens, the robotic arrangement makes use of the underneath area for the swapping operation.
3. Side swapping -
This is the convenient position for handling the batteries in the light duty electric vehicles. The discharged batteries can be swapped with the charged ones from one of the sides of the vehicle.
4. Rear swapping -
This technique is suitable for the light duty electric vehicles (LEV) which have a large boot space. This boot space is utilized for the swapping procedure, thus allowing easy exchange of charged batteries with the fully charged batteries.
Concerns around the battery swapping technology
While the battery swapping technology is integral to the future of e-mobility industry, there are still some challenges that are restricting its wider adoption. A few of these challenges include:
1. Need for standardization -
The battery packs used in the swapping system have a different design, dimension and architecture. Therefore, it is very difficult to interchange battery packs in the swapping operation because of the different design considerations of EV manufacturers. To overcome this challenge, batteries need to be standardized for minimum performance parameters and mechanical features and all the electric vehicle OEMs have to build and follow the common standard while manufacturing battery packs.
2. Limitations in vehicle design -
The swapping operation needs smooth attachment and detachment of battery in the electric vehicle. Therefore, this arrangement can be taken care during the manufacturing process of the EV. It limits the freedom of the manufacturer to design the vehicle and customize it.
3. Lack of commercial business models -
The high expenses involved in battery ownership and swapping infrastructure set-up in a non-standardized scenario discourage participation from the investors. Therefore, it is difficult to create commercial business model related to the battery swapping business.
4. Need of battery maintenance -
The new range of mounts, seals and connectors are required for the battery fitment in the vehicle. As the battery is removable from the vehicle during each swap procedure, the concerns such as vibrations, dirt, dust, water need to be taken care for better performance from an electric vehicle.
5. Need of battery security mechanism –
As the batteries can be separated from the vehicle in the swapping operation, some security mechanism within the batteries must be incorporated to avoid theft and unauthorized use of stolen batteries.
Battery Swapping Pros and Cons
|1.||Reduced ownership cost of EVs||High as compared to ICE vehicles|
|2.||Minimum time consumption||Lack of standardization|
|3.||Easy and convenient to consumers||Limited scope in vehicle designing|
|4.||Increased driving range||Lack of commercial business models|
|5.||Improved battery life||Requirement of battery maintenance|
|6.||Less space for swapping operation||Need of battery security|
Future of battery swapping in India
The automotive industry has made a noteworthy progress in the last five years and the EV experts believe that the market sales will further peak in the coming years. One of the major reasons for this widening acceptance of the electric vehicles across the world is the introduction of new innovative models. This ongoing advancement and the growing demand from the customers is inviting a lot of investment from leading players in the EV market.
Battery swapping model brings a lot of innovation in the EV industry and allows a faster adoption of EVs across the globe. The battery swapping technology is successful in bringing the ownership price of electric vehicles on par with internal combustion engine vehicles. Therefore the reduction in the ownership cost makes EVs a more viable option for the new consumers.
This technology provides other significant benefits to EV consumers such as increased driving range, enhanced battery life, minimum waiting time and ease of charging operation. The benefits of battery swapping technology is not only limited to EV drivers but it has also opened new business and job opportunities for the EV enthusiasts.
In India, the battery swapping technology is expected to revolutionize the complete EV industry. This technology is allowing a faster adoption of electric vehicles especially in two and three wheeler segments in the country.
India is a case in point for investments in battery swapping infrastructure. The adoption of new innovative technology is playing a vital role in the faster adoption of electric vehicles in the country. In order to make EVs more affordable to the consumers the government is encouraging a battery leasing model where the batteries are sold separately on monthly rentals and the consumers have to pay these rentals to the car companies.
Battery swapping system provides ease and comfort of getting the fully charged batteries within no time. The consumers are also benefited with battery monitoring apps which update the EV drivers about the current charging status of the batteries and the provision for scheduling the swap operation for the depleted batteries.
The battery swapping technology is getting further accelerated after Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) allowed the sale and registration of electric vehicles without batteries. This attracts original equipment manufacturers and energy operators to design new customer friendly business models for this evolving technology. The battery swapping excels the EV business in the country and attracts foreign investments in Indian automotive industry.
In order to become a prominent player in the EV automobile sector, India needs to encourage more participation from battery owning and manufacturing companies, energy operators and research teams to inculcate new features in the battery swapping technology.
The government has to take a lead in creating the EV ecosystem. Different policy measures such as further reduction in cost of batteries and charging infrastructure development, standardizing the major components in swapping system and set of guidelines for safety and reliability of batteries, etc. can help n advancement of electric vehicles in the country.
EV – Electric Vehicle
BSS – Battery Swapping Station
BCS – Battery Charging Station
LS Batteries – Locked-Smart Batteries
LS VBCC – Locked Smart-Vehicle Battery Charger Cloud
CMS –Central Management System
SoC – State of Charge
SoH – State of Health
HEV – Heavy Duty Electric Vehicle
LEV – Light duty Electric Vehicle
ICE – Internal Combustion Engine
OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers
MoRTH - Ministry of Road Transport and Highways