E-vehicles with batteries that you can swap

Last Updated 08 August 2018, 21:09 IST

Not many Bengalureans have switched to electric cars. Nor have electric buses and auto-rickshaws entered the city. Reason: High upfront cost, inconvenient battery charging and tricky range per charge. So, why not dump the built-in battery and switch to swappable, modular batteries, like those AA and AAA batteries in torches?

This is precisely the smart mobility solution developed by the Bengaluru-based startup, Sun Mobility. Here’s how this system will work on an electric autorickshaw: If a ‘smart’ battery is low on charge, the driver is alerted through a mobile app which directs him to the closest ‘Quick Interchange Station.’ Here, the driver removes the drained battery and swaps it with a fully-charged one within minutes.

The battery is owned by the swapping station operator, and the driver/electric vehicle (EV) user only pays for the energy used.

The operator recharges the previous battery for the next customer exchange.

The most expensive component of an EV is the battery system. Recharging this is the vehicle user’s responsibility. “Replacing the built-in battery of an EV with an open-architecture, modular, swappable smart battery not only reduces the capital cost of the vehicle considerably but also removes the onus of recharging,” explains Chetan Maini, Vice-Chairman, Sun Mobility.

Electric smart bus

At the Delhi Auto Expo 2018, Sun Mobility had showcased what it claimed to be the world’s first interoperable battery swapping station for two- and three-wheelers in Bengaluru. Automobile major Ashok Leyland had also unveiled its first electric bus, Circuit-S, powered by the swappable smart battery system.

Since the battery is separated from the bus, the upfront cost of the electric bus would drop to that of a diesel bus. The Quick Interchange Station, to be set up for a fleet of such electric buses, allows batteries to be swapped under four minutes; faster than refuelling a bus. Leyland had claimed that such stations could be set up in a day. Each station could complete 15 smart battery swaps in an hour and 300 swaps a day. The calculation for Bengaluru was this: “By setting up 30 Quick Interchange Stations at existing bus depots in a city like Bengaluru, we can cover 85% of the bus routes in the city.”

Meanwhile, Sun Mobility is ready to launch a pilot project of the system in Visakhapatnam by the year-end. It had recently inked a deal with the Andhra Pradesh government to create charging infrastructure for an EV-based public transport network.

(Published 08 August 2018, 19:51 IST)

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