A charger for electric and hybrid automobiles sits at a charging station outside the Volkswagen AG factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

India Veers Towards European Electric Vehicle Charging Standard

India’s power planning body prefers the European electric vehicle charging infrastructure standard that’s used by German and American automakers, according to officials aware of the development.

The Central Electricity Authority’s April report recommended the European Combined Charging System which is the most followed format, an official at the authority said requesting anonymity. The Power Ministry has to get the approval of the government’s think tank NITI Aayog, the official said.

Still a nascent market for electric vehicles, India aims to turn about 30 percent of the vehicles battery-powered by 2030 as Asia’s third-largest economy looks to curb oil imports and plush cleaner transport. Charging equipment will be a lucrative business opportunity as electric vehicles become more commonplace. Automakers supporting various standards—including European CCS and Japan’s Chademo—have been lobbying to make their systems acceptable as they have invested in the technology to create an infrastructure.

“European standards are well accepted globally. The auto industry can very quickly adapt to it,” Shubhranshu Patnaik, partner at Deloitte India told BloombergQuint. Standards will cover communication infrastructure, connectivity with the grid and adapter size, he said, adding that “it’s not really a significant change for automakers”.

The Combined Charging System is used by Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor Co., Daimler AG and General Motors Ltd. in the U.S. and Europe.

A ChargePoint Inc. charging plug sits connected to an electric vehicle  at a station in Los Angeles, California, U.S. (Photographer: Dania Maxwell/Bloomberg)
A ChargePoint Inc. charging plug sits connected to an electric vehicle at a station in Los Angeles, California, U.S. (Photographer: Dania Maxwell/Bloomberg)

Adopting the European format won’t involve huge investments, Patnaik said. “The core battery technology remains the same. Interface used to connect with the charging infrastructure and communication infrastructure will undergo some changes,” he said. The software for battery management and power control system will also require some changes,” said Patnaik.

Tata Motors Ltd. and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. support Bharat EV standard which is compatible with the European format, he said. Ford Motors, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Renault, BMW, Audi, Fiat and Jeep also follow the European standard in India.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., India’s largest carmaker, follows Chademo system developed by its parent Suzuki Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.

China’s GB/T protocol is also more tuned to European technology, according to Patnaik. The CEA official quoted earlier, however, said since the equipment for GB/T will be made in China, that is a concern.

E-mails sent to the Power Ministry and a text message to NITI Aayog’s spokesperson remain unanswered.

Cost effectiveness of the charging infrastructure will be crucial, Kavan Mukhtyar, partner and leader (automotive) at PwC India, told BloombergQuint over the phone. “If they localise it, then it can be made in India at a cost-effective level. The advantage of the Chinese standard is that if imports happen from China then several cost-effective charging points are available.”

Mukhtyar pitches for inter-operable standards that can be used for all types of vehicles for fast charging.

India’s Bharat EV standard doesn’t apply to charging speeds above 15 kilowatts. Fast-chargers provide high-powered DC current, generally up to 120 kW, to the electric vehicle’s battery. Chademo, Combined Charging System and Tesla Supercharger replenish 80 percent of the battery in 20 minutes for most cars.

A driver charges a Volkswagen e-Golf electric automobile at a charging station outside the Volkswagen AG  factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)
A driver charges a Volkswagen e-Golf electric automobile at a charging station outside the Volkswagen AG factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

Types Of Fast Charging Systems

European Combined System (Europe, U.S.)

  • Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor Co., Daimler AG and General Motors Ltd. in the U.S. and Europe.

Chademo (Japan)

  • Designed by Suzuki Motor and Toyota

Tesla Supercharger

  • Only compatible with Tesla

GB/T (China)

  • Pushed by Chinese automakers

The CEA recommended the European combined charging system because it’s a more secure format based on encrypted messages between the vehicle and the charging station, another official at the authority said on the condition of anonymity.

Indian automakers are evaluating several charging infrastructure systems without singling out any specific technology or defining the optimal EV charging standards, Dave Yoshida, secretary general at Chademo Association, said in an emailed response to BloombergQuint. “With ‘Make in India’ in mind, our hope is that the Indian stakeholders take time to evaluate and define the best solution for the particularities of the Indian market, including an India-specific standard.”

In an emailed response, Tata Motors said it will be comfortable with whatever standards the government adopts. E-mails and calls to Maruti Suzuki and equipment manufacturers Siemens, Exicom Power Solutions and ABB India Ltd. went unanswered.

Mahesh Babu, chief executive officer of Mahindra Electric, said in an emailed statement that the European standard doesn’t support existing vehicles in India in terms of operating voltage. “We would expect that the Indian ecosystem in future may have DC fast chargers that support both CCS [the European system] and Bharat Stage charging standards.”

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