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SUN Mobility battery swapping at an IOCL pump in Chandigarh.
SUN Mobility battery swapping at an IOCL pump in Chandigarh.

IOC launches battery swapping facility for quick recharge of electric vehicles

  • IOC has joined hands with Sun Mobility to offer the battery exchange facility which seeks to remove range anxieties.
  • IOC will begin with a pilot of battery swapping at one of its outlets in Chandigarh and gradually scale it up to 20 stations.
  • New Delhi and Gurugram cities will also be covered.

Indian Oil Coroporation Limited (IOC) and Sun Mobility on Friday announced the launch of a battery swapping facility for electric vehicles (EVs) at IOC petrol pumps, offering to replace discharged batteries with fully charged ones in a procedure that would take only a few minutes.

IOC will begin with a pilot of battery swapping at one of its outlets in Chandigarh and gradually scale it up to 20 stations, company chairman Sanjiv Singh announced at the launch. "While users may be receptive to switching to EV, they may not want to struggle through the cumbersome recharging process. This is where battery swapping comes into the picture. Indian Oil would consider various aspects of the battery-swapping technology for scaling up its presence in the EV infrastructure business," he said.

Range anxiety is one of the major stumbling blocks towards the mass adoption of EVs around the world. It refers to the number of kilometers a vehicle can travel before requiring a charge. Singh said that battery swapping technology offers the best alternative to no or slow charging options and can help EV drivers make optimum use of their operational hours.

The battery swapping model is initially targeted at commercial vehicles such as electric autos, rickshaws and electric two-wheelers and EVs that are either factory fitted or retrofitted.

Battery swapping facilities and technologies could go a long way in reducing range-related concerns in EVs.
Battery swapping facilities and technologies could go a long way in reducing range-related concerns in EVs.

Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, also hailed the move. "This battery swapping model is a step in line with PM's vision to make India energy independent. Our government constantly endeavours to provide energy justice for all Indians leading to better livelihood and empowerment," he said.

IOC is the country's top fuel retailer, controlling close to half of the market. But, it is now making a foray into EV charging. It has partnered with Sun Mobility for setting up battery swapping facility, called Quick Interchange Station (QIS).

Chetan Maini, Co-Founder and Vice Chairman at Sun Mobility said that IOC was the perfect partner for this move because of its pan-India presence. "IOC’s extensive footprint - as the largest oil & gas corporation - will ensure that battery swapping infrastructure is accessible to customers at the same scale and ease as conventional vehicles," he said.

Any EV can drive into IOC's QIS pumps, insert fully discharged battery into a dispensing station and get a fully charged one in just 1-2 minutes.

All three/four batteries of EVs can be replaced with fully charged ones at the QIS.

At the end of the process, a bill for charging the batteries will be generated.

The Pilot QIS has 14 batteries, a touch screen for swapping preloaded cards, and an electricity sub-meter. These QIS will play a pivotal role in providing an alternative energy solution to the 3-wheeler segment, he said.

Singh said only 4,000 out of 35 lakh vehicles sold last year were EVs. And time taken to charge batteries is one of the reasons for low sales.

"While users may be receptive to switching to EV, they may not want to struggle through the cumbersome recharging process. This is where battery swapping comes into the picture," he said. "Not only will battery swapping eliminate the unnecessary waiting time for battery recharging, but it will also help with better land use, reduce the size of batteries in vehicles, and ensure an increased run time."

(Also read: Another day, another hike as petrol and diesel prices continue to rise)

IOC has signed a non-binding strategic cooperation document with Sun Mobility to explore setting up energy infrastructure for EVs through a battery swapping model across its petrol pumps in select cities.

Three more QIS - one each in Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Bengaluru- will be set up under the pilot project.

(Also read: IOC reveals why diesel price is more than petrol price in Delhi)

New Delhi, Gurugram, and other cities will also be covered under the pilot.

(With PTI inputs)

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