One of the hassles associated with electric vehicles is how long it takes to charge them. But in India, an energy infrastructure startup has partnered with the country’s second biggest truck manufacturer to pioneer a solution: a battery swapping system. They’ll start with electric buses, which could stop at stations reminiscent of today’s petrol pumps to quickly swap out batteries and be on their way.
Vehicle manufacturer Ashok Leyland has partnered with startup SUN Mobility to develop the battery swapping system first for intra-city buses, potentially followed by delivery trucks, inter-city buses, and long-haul trucks, according to Ashok Leyland CEO Vinod Dasari.
SUN Mobility has been working on the system with Stanford University-trained engineer Chetan Maini, who designed India’s first electric car Reva, at the helm. Their smart battery system can reportedly power a variety of electric vehicles. According to their website, they aim to shake up transportation with an “open-architecture ecosystem built around a smart network of quick interchange battery stations,” which Quartz India said will be powered by renewable energy. SUN Mobility’s ultimate goal is lofty: refuel electric vehicles even cheaper and faster than cars can fill up at gas stations today.
The partnership follows India’s plan to sell only electric vehicles by 2030, recently announced by energy minister Piyush Goyal. At that time, he said the government would invest in charging infrastructure, and even pointed to the potential of battery swapping systems.
Government advisor Ashok Jhunjhunwala said in a June lecture swappable batteries would need to be a key component of India’s push to put more electric cars on the road. The expense of batteries is prohibitive for many, but he said, “…we’ll start buying vehicles without battery. For example, if I want to buy a bus or a three-wheeler, I’ll buy it without [the] battery but with enhanced [vehicle] efficiency.” In such a system, with high efficiency vehicles and swappable batteries, costs per kilometer could potentially be lowered until they’re on par with gas-guzzling cars.
Via Quartz India