Historically, there have been cases when Indians adopt a trending technology long after its introduction in the Western markets. But, that doesn't seem to be the case when it comes to electric mobility.
In the last five years, all the major stakeholders, including the government, startups, companies, and investors have expressed unprecedented interest and intent to foray into the EV sector in one way or another.
With the wheels turning, and the trends pivoting from fossil fuels, the question is now much more than EVs. It's more about the right infrastructure to cater to and nurture the electric vehicle ecosystem.
An EV charging station is one of the most basic yet integral elements of any EV-friendly infrastructure. However, for better penetration of EVs, these charging stations need to be frequent, accessible and practical for everyone.
For that to happen, businesses need to realise the potential gains from an EV charging station and how they can benefit from it. Just like a fuel station becoming a source of income or a business model, setting up an EV charging station can turn out to become a decent revenue generator for many.
Here are the basics of an EV charging station and setting it up in India.
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Evolution of EV Charging Stations
EV chargers have come a long way in the last few years.
Since the days when discoms weren't really eager to sell electricity to EV charging stations, to getting the government's support, EV charging stations and chargers have come a long way.
From private players and first movers, the time has arrived that strategic partnerships are being forged with PSUs, government entities and other bodies.
The number of EV charging stations required, to cater to the rising EV penetration is enormous, and while the numbers are growing, the rate of growth has to be faster than before.
A report by the Indian Venture and Alternate Capital Association (IVCA), Induslaw and EY, the total number of EV charging stations in the country might increase to 100,000 in the coming future.
While things have changed over the years, facilitating growth too, the next few years depend on the joint efforts conducted by all the stakeholders, including the customers.
Types of EV Charging Stations
Before going ahead and setting up an EV charging station, it is important to know what are types of EV chargers there are, which can be deployed.
Rapid Chargers: These are the fastest kinds of EV chargers out there, which are usually found in city centres, prominent places, and major routes across the country. They can work on either DC (direct current) or AC (alternating current) to charge an EV rapidly. A rapid charger's capability enables it to charge a vehicle up to the 80% mark within 20 minutes (depending on the model and make). They usually operate at 50 kW.
Fast Chargers: These are AC chargers which usually operate in the range of 7kW and 22 kW. The charging times can vary depending on the type of EV and the battery pack it consists of. It is the most common type of charger available in public charging stations.
Slow Chargers: Slow chargers are available with a power output of 3kW to 6kW. It can usually charge a car between 8 to 12 hours. It is usually preferred to keep your car on charge for the entire night, with a slow charger.
Getting The Basics Right: Prerequisites for Setting up an EV Charging Station.
An EV charging station requires some basics which are to be fulfilled when being developed. Here are some of them.
Location of the Public Charging Station: The location of a public charging station will always play a critical role in determining its business success. The location shortlisted for the final charging station should be strategically located, accessible and have all the right amenities such as a washroom, parking space, and assembly, waiting area.
Types of EV Chargers: There are various types of EV chargers, which vary depending on their shape, size, model and speed of charging. There are three different types of charging stations, which are bifurcated on the basis of their charging speeds, i.e. Level 1, 2 & 3, with Level 1 being the fastest.
Ownership Model: There are various ways to operate the EV charging station depending on the type of ownership one chooses to go for. The primary one is owning the entire thing, and the second is leasing it to a third party for operating it.
"How Much?": The Costs Involved in Setting up an EV Charging Station
If we look at it from a business perspective, it does make sense to invest in setting up an EV charging station. Since the delicensing of setting up a charging station has come into play, there are various players who are looking to foray into the space.
Looking at the costs, and based on a number of estimates from various sources, the range for setting up an EV charging station looks quite wide, somewhere between ₹1 lakh and ₹40 lakhs.
In order to adhere to certain guidelines set by the Power Ministry, Government of India, the initial investment can attract a list of costs, which are to be complied with. Some of these costs include:
An exclusive transformer
Adequate civil works
Appropriate cabling and electricity work
Adequate space for unobstructed movement of vehicles
At least two chargers of 100kWh or above (for charging stations meant for long-range EVs including trucks and buses)
While this makes up the capital expenditure, there are other variable costs apart from this, including marketing and promotional expenses, maintenance and technical expenses amongst other things.
Let's Talk Numbers: The Revenue Model, and Profitability
To ascertain the exact revenue numbers from an EV charging station wouldn't be accurate. Hence, there are certain assumptions to be made.
Revenue generated from an EV charging station and the profit margin are mostly dependent on the state-wise electricity tariffs and the amount of money invested. Moreover, other factors like EV penetration in the region, electricity supply etc play a vital role too, in determining the revenue numbers for an EV charging station business.
Let's explain this to you with an example. So, let's just say a Tata Tigor EV, whose battery capacity is 26kWh, comes to an EV charging station for a full charge. Now, the electricity being supplied to an EV charging station in Delhi is at ₹3 per kWh.
Now, adding a profit margin on this, and setting up an EV charging station, let's just assume that the charging station is able to charge ₹5 per kWh.
Discom Tariff @ ₹3 per kWh (26kWh x 3)
Public EV Charging Station Costs (26kWh x 5)
These numbers are strictly based on assumptions, and the latest per-unit tariff for electricity being supplied at charging stations in Delhi.
This ₹52 profit is a part of the entire revenue, which can be generated by setting up a conducive ecosystem around the EV charging stations. Investing in added amenities, like cafes, and food courts.
Just like any other industry, the first mover businesses have got to assess their propensity for risk and rewards before investing. However, things do look positive for the electric mobility industry as a whole.
What's Up in the EV Charging Space?
There's no doubt about the positive prospects that an EV charging business has to offer.
Newer developments on every front are taking place to make the industry more conducive to growth.
For instance, the government is providing lands at concessional prices in some places, to set up EV charging stations, similarly, businesses in the EV charging space are trying to forge a strategic partnership with manufacturers and carmakers.
All of this can certainly make the entire EV ecosystem much more lucrative.
Conclusion: Should You Set up An EV Charging Station As A Business?
The entire EV ecosystem is at a nascent but growing stage.
Investing in EVs or any other auxiliary industry can turn out to be fruitful. However, there are some necessary elements that someone who's looking to invest in the industry needs to take care of.
Taking into consideration the rate at which the demand for EVs is growing, entering the space, and taking advantage of the rate of growth is essential.