Tata Power, which currently has a presence in 65 cities in India with over 400 charging points now and is to have a footprint in over 100 cities with its Public Charging Network, is targeting setting up an EV charging infrastructure of over 700 charging stations across the country by December 2021. It might even get there before that.
In a recent interview with Autocar Professional, Sandeep Bangia, Head — EV, HA & ESCO Business, Tata Power, said: “We will get to 700 charging stations much earlier than December this year. We are quite bullish on the demand for EVs and are investing in the charging infrastructure in preparation for the impending demand. Last year despite Covid, the total number of EVs (4Ws, 2Ws and 3Ws) sold were a very sharp increase from the previous years. This was on the back of new and strong EV launches. Hence, we believe the interest in EVs is expanding at phenomenal pace and it’s a market which is beginning to grow. We are currently available in about 65 cities and will soon expand to over 100 cities. The locations of our public charging stations are available on our state-of-the-art digital platform — the Tata Power EZ Charge app — which is available for download on both Android Play Store and iOS Store.”
Enabling ease of charging to EV users
While the company’s charging infrastructure is suitable for all cars, the company has tie-ups with EV makers like MG Motor India, Jaguar Land Rover India and Tata Motors for charging infrastructure.
According to Bangia, “We work very closely with them to identify potential areas and cities to set up charging infrastructure — for home charging or public charging — so that when they launch their cars in those geographies, our charging infrastructure is already there. These tie-ups also offer us an opportunity to learn and then improvise as we go along. We are deploying a mix of charger types from 7.2kWh regular chargers right up to 50kWh fast DC chargers. We optimally deploy these chargers depending upon the location and application so that we have right-sized our network for the needs of our customers and their vehicles.”
Tata Power has also recently tied up with the Central Railway Mumbai in association with the UN Environment Programme(UNEP) for charging facilities at railway station precincts. The company is now looking to spread its reach across the country. This will involve setting up EV charging facilities at high-traffic highways and also popular tourist locations.
According to Bangia, “Highways are an important focus area for us as the main use of a public charging network is for inter-city travel. We are identifying specific high-traffic density highway locations along the key city pairs like Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Chandigarh, Delhi-Jaipur, Bangalore-Chennai, Hyderabad-Vijayawada and others to put up chargers.
“Similarly, we have identified tourist destinations like Mussoorie, Mahabaleshwar, Coorg, Dwarka and such locations where EV owners from a city would go for a driving excursion. We are putting up fast DC chargers at logical pit-stops along these highways where one may take a quick chai break while his/her car gets topped up.”
EV users need a mindset change
According to Bangia, EV users need to have a change of mindset. He said, “EV charging requires a mindset shift from the current way in which are used to refuelling our vehicles at a central location, compared to EV charging which can happen at ‘fragmented’ locations. Electric vehicles can charge themselves at locations wherever vehicles are parked anyway — be they homes, offices, malls, restaurants or public parking lots. One will not have to go to a location to charge; instead, charging will be available where you are parked or are going to be stopping as a natural pit-stop in your journey from one place to another. Our alliances will help us in accessing precisely these locations.
“So, you can continue to do what you are doing while your car charges at the next available ‘opportunity’. You sleep at home while the car charges, you watch a movie at a cinema and the car is topped up, you work in your office and your car is topping up. Of course, it will take time from the century-old habit of refuelling IC engine cars, but this is the mindset change that is gradually happening and people actually see this as a benefit,” added Bangia.