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Electric cars likely to get same power specs
In a bid to standardise the various parts of the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, several constituents, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), have come together to define standards. The move is primarily aimed at commercial vehicles that will ply with swappable batteries. The OEMs — which include Mahindra & Mahindra, Lucas TVS, Okinawa, Kinetic, GEM, Ashok Leyland, Exicom, Amara Raja Batteries and Exide — are involved in preparation of these specifications. “We have coordinated this effort and did iterations in the documents based on feedback from all different stakeholders,” said Prabhjot Kaur, CEO of the Centre for Battery Engineering and EVs (C-BEEV). The centre comes under the department of electrical engineering at IIT-Madras. The project is spearheaded by professor Ashok Jhunjunwala. “We don’t want to commit the mistakes of mobile handset companies that did not standardise chargers, etc, when it would have made sense. We will continue to work towards setting up more common standards for the industry,” Kaur The standards are grouped under ‘Lock Smart - Vehicle Battery Charger Cloud Protocol (or LS-VBCC). They will act as the cornerstone for EVs. “The battery-swapping industry standard has been designed with a group coming from different segments — charger manufacturers, vehicle OEMs, battery manufacturers and other stakeholders,” Kaur said. The protocol specifies the communication to be implemented between subsystems that need to interact with each other, be it battery and vehicle, battery and charger, battery and hand-held device or apps and server. The purpose of the standard is to promote interoperability between energy operators, vehicles, batteries and chargers. This would make it agnostic to the make & model of these subsystems for an operator to procure the components. It would also be a great benefit for users to acquire or exchange the batteries and gain from the lower capital expenditure and operating expenditure and be flexible on the location of the operator across the intended area of travel. “Using Esmito’s platform at C-BEEV in IIT-Madras and several other locations, we have done several three-wheeler and two-wheeler pilots using the standard swapping platform. Esmito is now offering this solution as a SaaS platform for energy/fleet operators,” Kaur said. For example, the standards will involve vehicle identification number (VIN) and battery identification number (BIN) in specified formats that will help identify where the parts were produced, including if the batteries are lead acid, lithium ion or cobalt-based batteries, among others. “We need to still have standards on batteries, chargers, in all different segments and BIS is working on these,” she said. India has the potential to become one of the largest EV markets in the world, with the government pushing for the segment in order to curb pollution and reduce reliance on import-dependent fossil fuel, says a World Economic Forum report. The uptake of EVs has been slow in the country due to the high upfront as well as life cycle costs. But long-term investment in research and development (R&D) will create sustained growth. A step towards cheaper EVs is to sell the vehicles without batteries and allow the user to swap drained batteries with fully charged ones at dedicated charging stations. For example, if a conventional EV costs Rs 14 lakh, one without battery will cost only Rs 6.5 lakh and the user can drive into a charging station and swap the batteries in the time it takes to refuel a fossil fuel vehicle.