E-vehicle owners disappointed as charging devices not standardized

City Gadget Tech

Two-wheelers’ plugs don’t fit into BESCOM’s sockets

The absence of standardization for plugs and sockets at electric vehicle charging stations is causing inconvenience to owners of electric vehicles.

Ayan Ahmed Hussein, who owns an electric scooter, informed The Observer that he couldn’t make effective use of the Bescom charging station because the plugs were different. “I couldn’t charge my vehicle at the station because the plug did not fit in the socket. What Bescom uses is different from mine. There is a need for standardization so that electric vehicle owners are not inconvenienced. Right now, vehicles of different companies use different charging connectors, making it difficult for electric vehicle owners to charge their vehicles at these charging stations.”

Asked about the problem, Vishal S, assistant executive engineer from the Smart Grid and Electric Vehicle Cell of Bescom, explained: “This problem is limited to two-wheelers and does not extend to four-wheelers. There are industrial standards for four-wheel electric vehicles which all companies adhere to. Bescom charging stations are designed according to these industrial standards.”

Vishal shifted the onus to manufacturers. “It is not mandatory for manufacturers of two-wheeler electric vehicles to follow the industrial standards in their design of charging connectors. Several companies use ‘domestic plugs’. They are perhaps trying to suit the market demand, and make it affordable and accessible to the consumers. While some companies like Ather use proprietary plugs, others like Mahindra use the standard that we follow.”

Government regulations would make electric vehicle charging infrastructure more accessible to consumers, he said.

According to documents provided by the Bescom official, the company has launched fast and slow chargers at its charging stations. The slow chargers are Bharat DC chargers which are standardized under Bureau of Indian standards, while the fast chargers are DC chargers using European and Japanese standards which, Vishal said, are more expensive.

The absence of standardization is not the only problem affecting Bescom’s charging stations. The slow rollout of these charging stations has also caused inconvenience to users of electric vehicles.

Raju, who drives an electric cab, informed The Observer: “It would be better if they could work on increasing the number of charging stations as cab drivers need to commute long distances. Having more stations from Bescom would be helpful.”

Bescom had announced it would launch 100 electric charging stations in Bengaluru under the Faster Adoption and Manufacture of Hybrid and Electric Vehicle (FAME) scheme. According to the Guidelines for Charging Infrastructure of Electric Vehicles, since most electric vehicles use international standards such as CCS (European) and Chademo (Japanese), it is mandatory for state-run charging stations to install charger models of all types. Also, there should be at least two charging stations at a distance of every 3 km and one charging station every 25 km on both sides of a highway.

Sandeep Anirudhan, an expert in renewable energy, said a more detailed government policy is necessary for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. “A better-researched policy proposal would have included the standardization of all vehicles, including two-wheelers. This can only be done if the government brings all private players together and draws a framework for them to cooperate and arrive at a standardized type.”

Anirudhan disagrees with the idea of expanding charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. He believes that providing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles will become unfeasible in the coming years.“As the number of electric vehicles grows, it will be difficult for the charging infrastructure to keep up. Instead, manufacturers should provide charged batteries that can be removed and replaced easily. An industry should be built around this as this would be more economical.”

nissim.j@iijnm.org

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