A large-scale transformation to electric vehicles is limited by high initial costs, mainly derived from relatively expensive battery technology. This problem is the same everywhere and especially in markets where small lightweight vehicles are dominant. The traditional auto rickshaw (three-wheelers) is an important part of the Indian transportation system. In order to make a large-scale transformation to electric vehicles, there must be a cost-effective alternative for the owners and users of those vehicles.
To address this issue we have partnered up with the battery power supplier Fortum to initialize a demonstration and validation project for a battery swap system outside of New Delhi. The goal is to develop the technology and launch it for all types of light electric vehicles.
The idea is that Fortum will own and provide batteries and let them charge in swapping stations where they will be lent out to owners and drivers of electric vehicles for a reasonable amount of money. The batteries can easily be replaced with fully charged batteries when they are in need of recharging. Fortum will address the end customers by explaining the benefits of using cost-effective, clean solar energy without having to worry about the battery.
The ambition the companies have is to create a solution that contributes to the potential of the world’s light electric vehicles. The intention is to launch a demonstration project during 2018 on an existing Zbee cluster in India before further expansion.
We want to increase the utilization of our vehicles, since this is in line with our overall strategy of increased efficiency and use of resources. When we provide vehicles with swapping technology and enable this an early stage test, we will get a head start.
As India has no public access to charging, we have chosen to implement our Zbee vehicles in clusters, which means increased concentration in a limited geographical area. These vehicle clusters are optimal for battery swap systems, as you can concentrate the battery stations and get maximum benefits with limited investment in the infrastructure.
The system will primarily be offered for Zbee vehicles but in the next step, the system will be offered to all manufacturers of light electric vehicles.
If everyone uses the same system, it will become even more cost-effective. Our competitive advantage is in the vehicle itself, where we can drive a far longer distance on the same amount of energy.