Where Delhi's EV charging infrastructure stands right now, and where it's headed

Published on Sep 16, 2022 11:58 AM IST

Over two years since Delhi's EV Policy was launched, the Capital is doing well to match demand and supply. However, as numbers increase, Delhi, and critically, all of NCR, must keep up. Here are the plans so far

As per the Delhi government’s plans, there is a target to reach 18,000 charging points in Delhi by 2024, which will see Delhi have a charging point every three kilometres, with each charging point roughly catering to 15 EVs by 2024. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo) PREMIUM
As per the Delhi government’s plans, there is a target to reach 18,000 charging points in Delhi by 2024, which will see Delhi have a charging point every three kilometres, with each charging point roughly catering to 15 EVs by 2024. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

New Delhi: Delhi is adding electric vehicles (EVs), particularly four-wheelers, at an incredible pace, in line with Delhi’s Electric Vehicle Policy which was launched in August 2020.

Nearly two years on, Delhi has already sold over 62,000 EVs, with the Capital also increasing its EV share sales figure to an average of 10% in the year 2022. In March 2022, this figure touched as high as 12.5% — meaning out of all vehicle sales in the month, 12.5% of these were EVs. With more manufacturers gradually entering the market and more options now available to the consumer, it is likely that Diwali sales — a combination of an auspicious occasion and discounts — are going to add to Delhi’s EV count. But, just how well prepared is Delhi? And as a new buyer, how easy or difficult is it to run and maintain an EV?

Experts say, compared to two years ago, when the policy was first introduced, Delhi’s EV infrastructure is already fairly advanced. Despite charging infrastructure in place, people still prefer using charging stations at home — leaving the vehicle on an overnight charge to commute locally the next day. While local commuting has become easy, travelling long distances across the National Capital Region (NCR) and beyond remains a hassle. This is a problem that is only expected to be solved over the next few years, they say.

Charging infrastructure to grow nearly 7 times in next 2 years

The Delhi government’s transport department has recently launched an open-source portal, through which it keeps updating information on its charging infrastructure, making each charging point’s location available on its website. The latest count shows Delhi has 2,452 charging points and 235 swapping stations operational across the city, and 896 charging points and 103 battery swapping stations are being installed and will be made operational in the next two months.

As per the Delhi government’s plans, there is a target to reach 18,000 charging points in Delhi by 2024, which will see Delhi have a charging point every three kilometres, with each charging point roughly catering to 15 EVs by 2024.

Delhi Principal Secretary-cum-Commissioner (Transport) Ashish Kundra says the figure of 18,000 has been decided based on the Delhi EV Policy, which assumes that by 2024, at least 25% of all new vehicles being registered will be EVs. This means the Capital will still need over 15,000 new charging stations. “The idea is to make EV charging points easily accessible, and they will be present in a 3-km radius in any direction. The policy also mandates an open-source portal to be created and that is also operational now, with it to show every charging point on a map in real-time,” he says.

Experts, however, say that the existing charging infrastructure is adequate to cater to the existing demand, and the creation of future charging points should be kept in line with the protection of streets and public space in mind.

“We have to prioritise space for pedestrians and cyclists first and so it is important to ensure that if charging infrastructure is created and Delhi has to add nearly 15,000 more points, then it should be off-street charging. So far, overnight charging is handling the bulk of the charging load and is also providing adequate options for the four-wheeler segment,” says Shreya Gadepalli, a transport expert and founder of the Urban Works Institute. She says electric cycles should also be kept as a priority area by the government, as they can bridge the last-mile connectivity gap, providing transport to the public without requiring ownership.

NCR and beyond are yet to catch up

Amit Bhatt, managing director (India), International Council on Clean Transportation, says studies indicate nearly 85% of all EV owners in Delhi are reliant solely on charging their vehicles at home, stating that even if it was required to utilise fast charging around the city, travelling locally is not a problem. “It is when one has to travel out of Delhi, the options begin to reduce. EV infrastructure in parts of NCR still exists on paper and, for instance, if one has to travel beyond Delhi, say, up to Punjab, owners will be hesitant,” he says, stating despite shortcomings, the number of EV options in the market is consistently growing, which in turn is leading to growth in terms of the overall EV infrastructure.

Bhatt, who owns an electric four-wheeler himself, says he is confident there will be sufficient infrastructure in place to travel to neighbouring states in the next two years. “At the moment, the only drawback for some owners is long-distance travel, but with more charging points coming up not just in Delhi but gradually around the NCR, there is expected to be a change in that mindset,” he said.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy at the Centre for Science and Environment says Delhi’s EV Policy is one of the most progressive policies across the country, but NCR states also need to address the shift towards EVs, particularly an electric fleet of buses, which form a crucial part of the public transport system.

“We are seeing a gradual shift from petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs, similar to what was being seen with CNG earlier. With 10-year-old diesel and 15-year-old petrol vehicles banned in the region, EVs are a relatively cleaner option for the region,” she says.

In its latest Comprehensive Policy to Abate Pollution in NCR, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR has looked to address this problem of poor EV charging infrastructure, asking all NCR states to notify an EV policy by September 30, 2022. Subsequently, each state will have to set targets for the overall electrification of vehicles fleet – and as per the state policy, charging stations need to be developed accordingly. Simultaneously, the CAQM has set a deadline of December 31, 2022, asking states to develop a policy for retrofitting vehicles to convert them into EVs.

Geospatial data and heatmaps

Delhi’s transport department is now focused on using geospatial data to plan the installation of its next batch of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for both private and public places, with a collaboration underway with a private company to plot the residential address of each new EV being registered in Delhi through the Vahan database, officials say. The transport department is likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) soon, with a pilot underway creating a heatmap that shows which residential areas in Delhi have the highest concentration of EV owners.

“A collaboration is currently underway and preliminary maps have been prepared for Delhi. For each new EV registered in Delhi, the residential address is automatically plotted by the software and a density-based heatmap is being prepared which when analysed is helping us identify neighbourhoods where a lot of EV owners reside. Based on this, we either approach the RWA [Resident Welfare Association] or approach homeowners directly to facilitate the installation of semi-public and EV charging infrastructure at the household level,” said a transport official, part of the project.

Kundra said the government had planned this with MapmyIndia to identify dense pockets, where charging infrastructure needed to be installed first, with the government simultaneously working with RWAs to create infrastructure at the neighbourhood level.

“This can be still classified as a pilot at the moment, but is likely to be finalised soon. This is allowing us to identify areas where charging infrastructure is needed on a priority basis, instead of doing it haphazardly through the city,” Kundra said, stating that over the next two years, installation of charging infrastructure in and around homes will be done using these maps.

For public infrastructure, areas with high footfall are being identified in collaboration with civic agencies and land-owning bodies to identify locations where vehicles are generally being parked for 2-3 hours, he added.

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