Challenges in Battery Swapping and how to counter them?

Challenges in Battery Swapping and how to counter them?

The announcement of a battery swapping strategy with interoperability standards is noteworthy. However, a number of obstacles must be overcome before this concept can propel electric vehicles into the mainstream. Lets understand the challenges in the battery swapping and how to counter them.
The objective for promoting this alternative is to decouple battery costs from EV costs and reduce recharging time. Because the battery accounts for around 30% to 40% of an EV’s cost, this strategy could assist EVs and ICE vehicles attain cost parity.

Click here to Know about What is Battery Swapping?

Electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and charging time are two of the most significant impediments to their widespread adoption in India. The Union Government is advocating battery swapping as a viable solution to overcome these challenges and hasten the transition to green mobility, particularly for two- and three-wheelers, whose average battery size is smaller than that of four-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

The basic concept of battery switching is the same as having a gadget with batteries for continuous use, such as a remote control, rather than needing to charge it every time, as with a mobile phone. The only difference is that in the case of electric vehicles, the consumer must exchange a drained battery for a charged one at a switch station.

The details of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s battery-swapping scheme, which was unveiled in the Union Budget 2022, are scheduled to be released in the following three months.

Click here to Know How Govt is using Battery Swapping to Promote EV in India

The intentions of the Government are to:

a) Encourage the commercial sector to create Battery-as-a-Service (BaaS) solutions
b) Promote battery interoperability

Challenges in Battery Swapping 

For battery swapping to be successful in India, the following challenges must be addressed: 

Interoperability: EV battery packs are currently not standardized. As a result, they are incompatible with a wide range of vehicle types, brands, and models. Battery compatibility with various car types, as well as standardization of battery packs and interfaces, will be critical. Setting up a consistent communication protocol between the battery management system (BMS) and the motor controller will be critical for overall efficiency on the software side. Extensive product validations will also aid in improving the performance and safety of battery packs.

Battery Inventory: There must be a backup battery for each battery in the car. At the outset of operations, inventory levels can be as high as 40% – 50%, but with appropriate optimization, they can be reduced to 10% – 15%. Extra inventory will be required in some operational scenarios, such as demand peaking and on-field battery repair. 

Captive Demand: Battery shifting needs real estate and equipment investments in addition to batteries and inventory. The exchanging stations must be positioned in high-traffic areas where customers can quickly access them, resulting in hefty rental expenses. Asset utilization is critical for long-term viability in a Capex-intensive organization.

Hence, demand creation for BaaS is critical, which can be addressed by: 

  • Using captive demand to limit minimum capacity utilization
  • Creating long-term partnerships with well-known automakers

Other challenges associated with battery swapping are as follow: 

Faster charging rates (less than 2 hours) generate more heat, necessitating the need for an air conditioning system to keep the battery temperatures at an optimal level (-25DegC). The need for air conditioning is exacerbated by India’s lower average ambient temperatures of -35 degrees Celsius.

Customers want a consistent range per swap from BaaS operators, regardless of the age of the battery pack, which can be achieved with clever software features.

Lithium batteries are extremely flammable, and recent automotive battery fires have just added to the problem. When many battery packs are handled in one location at the swap station, the risk increases, and in the unusual event of a fire caused by poor practices, an entire area in a crowded urban setting will be exposed.

Is battery swapping a long-sighted decision? 

While battery switching is projected to remain appealing for EV adoption in the medium term, its long-term relevance will be assessed.

When battery technology advances, the energy density of the battery will likely improve, allowing for more capacity to be packed into the battery, resulting in a longer range per charge. This, together with shorter charging times, will provide a problem for BaaS providers.

Ultra-fast charging comes with challenges like: 

  • Additional cooling measures in a vehicle are required, which should be a given in the event of a battery swap.
  • To enable quick charging, Grade A battery cells are required. Indian firms are increasingly using low-cost Grade B cells.
  • Larger parking spots are required for rapid charging, which requires vehicles to be parked for at least 30 minutes while battery changing takes less than 5 minutes.

While battery switching will help 2 and 3-wheeler EVs gain broad adoption, it may not be the best answer for passenger and commercial vehicles. The lithium-ion battery pack’s tremendous weight would make changing difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, the infrastructure required to shift larger, heavier battery packs, such as robotic arms, will be significantly more complex and costly.

The success of the BaaS will be determined by finding effective solutions to the concerns described above. Due to the interconnected nature of these concerns, finding the correct balance through technology and new business models is critical.

The Content of this Article is taken from Auto Economics Times and the author is Srihari Mulgund

4 thoughts on “Challenges in Battery Swapping and how to counter them?”

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