Budget 2022: Indian govt will need a heavy hand for battery swapping to work

The Indian government will need a heavy hand for implementing ‘battery swapping’ policy as the concept is not likely to work beyond limited situations because major car companies do not share battery technology, an expert of automotive industry said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Tuesday unveiled a bigger 39.45 lakh crore budget, with higher spending on highways to affordable housing with a view to fire up the key engines of the Indian economy to sustain a world-beating recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

She had also announced that the Indian government would bring the battery swapping policy to boost use of electric vehicles in the country in view of space constraints for setting up charging stations.

“There are many barriers in India in the automotive sector. Many companies have tried and failed to solve the affordability and scale problems in the country. The battery swapping idea is interesting, but is not likely to work without a great deal of government involvement and policy,” Arthur Wheaton, an expert on the automotive industry and director of labour studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said.

“Major car companies do not share the technology around batteries (or any technology) and the interchangeable batteries will mean lots of redundant batteries sitting around the country to be effective. There are very few products in the automobile that are consistent across brands. The cigarette lighter power supply (plug for GPS) and the valve stem for tires are about the only ones that can be mixed and matched across any brand,” he added.

Wheaton further argued that getting all of the car companies to voluntarily use the same battery design and technology would have to be government-mandated.

It is very expensive for battery packs and limited supply of lithium and cobalt to waste sitting in gas stations across the country. It could be an experiment in limited situations, but not likely to work without a heavy-handed government mandate and subsidy, he added.

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