Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Sun Mobility launch battery swapping facilities for electric vehicles.

by Madeeha Khan

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), India’s top oil firm, on Friday launched a battery swapping facility for electric vehicles (EVs) at their petrol pumps. It offers to replace the discharged battery with fully charged ones in just a couple of minutes.

IOC chairman Sanjiv Singh announced at the launch that IOC will begin with the trial of battery swapping at one of its outlets in Chandigarh and gradually scale it up to 20 stations. He also added, “While users may be receptive to switching to EV, they may not want to struggle through the cumbersome recharging process. This is where the battery swapping process 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.” 

IOC has partnered with Sun mobility for setting up a battery swapping facility called Quick Interchange Station (QIS). IOC controls about half of the market and is the top fuel retailer in the country. But it now wants to swoop into EV charging. Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of Sun Mobility Mr. Chetan Maini said that IOC was a perfect partner for this move because of its pan-India presence. He said, “IOC’s extensive footprint as the largest oil and gas corporation will ensure that battery swapping infrastructure is accessible to customers at the same scale and ease as a conventional vehicle.”

Battery swapping technology acts as the best alternative to slow charging and helps drivers to make optimum use of the operational hours. It is initially targeted at commercial vehicles like the electric autos, rickshaws, electric 2 wheelers, and EVs that are factory fitted or retrofitted, Singh said. However, range anxiety is one of the major stumbling blocks towards the mass adoption of EV’s around the world. It refers to the kilometres a vehicle can travel before requiring a charge.

Any EV vehicle can drive in the IOC’s QIS pumps and insert a fully discharged battery into a dispensing station and get a fully charged one in 1-2 minutes and at the end of the process, a bill for the same will be generated. It has 14 batteries, a touch screen for swapping loaded cards and an electricity sub-metre. The QIS will play a vital role in providing an alternative energy solution to the 3 wheeler segment. Mr.Sanjiv Singh said that only 4,000 out of 35 lakh vehicles sold last year were EVs. The major reason for low sales was the time it took to charge the batteries. 

Oil Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan at the launch said, “We must leverage modern technology to enable electric mobility to scale us in India and make it more affordable. This battery swapping model is a step in line with PM’s vision to make Indian energy independent.” He said that India is the third-largest consumer of energy in the world and we intend to grow. The oil marketing companies in the future will not confine themselves to selling only conventional fossil fuels, but also retail CNG, LNG, PNG and act as an electric charging station.

Three more QIS will be set up under this trial project, one each in Chandigarh, Amritsar and Bengaluru. New Delhi, Gurugram, and other cities will also follow.

Image credit:- Hindustan Times

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