Are we ready for electric cars? Prospects and challenges for architects and designers.

India is moving towards electric mobility and both the government and industry players have been doing their best to increase the adoption of electric cars. India is one of the top ten automotive markets in the world today and having a highly increasing middle-class population with buying potential and steady economic growth. India launched the ‘National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020’ in 2013 to address the issues of national energy security, vehicular pollution, and growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities. The electric cars available in India are Hyundai Kona Electric, Mahindra e-Verito, Mahindra e2o, Tata Tigor EV 2019, Tata Nexon EV 2020.

The road side parkings in India, can have facilities to charge your EV. Imagine Pune’s MG Road lined up with charging points like these.

Commercial success for Electric Cars will require installing charging infrastructure that is accessible, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive—whether at home or in public locations such as offices and malls. The form of this infrastructure represents a vast change to the country’s infrastructure.

The government is working to address the issues related to Electric cars charging infrastructure and is also working with state-level agencies to ensure that the charging stations are put in place. There are few amendments in Model Building Bye-Laws for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure, which states the specifics of Rationale for EVCI establishment, Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Technology, Options for EV Charging, Charger Specifications and Charging Station Infrastructure, Location of charging stations in the local area and building precincts and rules like, at least one public charging station to be available within a radius of 3 kms and at least one charging station to be set up at every 25 kms on both sides of the highway, are to be implemented. Each charging station is required to have a minimum of three fast chargers: a CCS, a CHAdeMo and a Type-2 AC. While the former two will be required to operate on 50kW/ 200-1000V, the Type-2 would be 22kW/ 380-480V. Additionally, the charging station should also have two slow charge points – a DC-001 (15 kW/ 72-200V) and an AC-001 (10 kW/ 230V).

The tariff for supply of electricity to electric vehicle public charging station shall not be more than the average cost of supply plus 15%, the guidelines said. States will fix ceiling on service charges of the public charging stations. The power ministry early last year issued a notification clarifying that setting up charging stations for

Public parkings in malls, multiplexes and airports can soon look like these. Seen here is a parking in China. China is much better placed to handle the influx of electric cars, than India today.

The electric car industry is poised to launch a number of new products over the next two years. The department of town and country planning under the ministry, has issued guidelines to provide for electric vehicle charging infrastructure through an addendum to Model Building Bye-Laws, 2016 and Urban and Regional Development Plan Formulation and Implementation Guidelines, 2014. According to the guidelines on charging infrastructure mandate provisions in various buildings, at least 20% of all residential and office parking spaces would be reserved for electric vehicles. Based on the occupancy pattern and the total parking provisions in the premises of the various building types, charging infrastructures shall be provided only for electric cars, which is currently assumed to be 20% of all ‘vehicle holding capacity’ at the premise. Additionally, the building premises have to have an additional power load, equivalent to the power of all the charging points operated simultaneously according to the guidelines. These will be applicable to residential, institutional buildings, multi-level parking complexes, bus terminals, and service stations. The proposal also includes increasing the electricity load for all buildings. India plans to shift one-third of its vehicle base to an electric fleet by 2030. The electric car industry, like any new industry, is facing a number of challenges like infrastructure, parking and charging stations. Unfortunately, those challenges are tangled in a giant ball – a ball that’ll be tough to unravel.

Electric vehicles will not require a separate license under the Electricity Act of 2003. Currently, EESL has 55 public electric vehicle charging stations in Delhi, and The Indian Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises has approved the construction of 2,636 charging stations in 62 cities across 24 states and union territories under the second phase of the FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India) scheme.

Charge on the go/ Pay as you charge. PCO is the future ?

An answer to the problem of EV charging infrastructure in India, given by one of the MBA students is PCO: Public charge offices. This PCO model could offer a viable option for charging stations and also foster entrepreneurship. It will empower millions of entrepreneurs to set up private, for-profit charging stations. These PCOs, or public charge offices, would have batteries to swap, a bank of chargers to charge them with, and refreshments while we wait. They could be e-commerce package drop points, biometric facilities for Aadhaar, and a bunch of other services. But, primarily, they would charge EV’s with clean electricity—some coming from the grid, some perhaps from solar power generated locally.

Last year, the government of UK published the Road to Zero strategy, where it mandates the requirement of a charge point in every new home with a minimum power rating output of 7kW and an associated parking space. The government proposes requiring every residential building undergoing major renovation with more than 10 car parking spaces to have cable routes for electric vehicle charge points in every car parking space and at least one charge point in existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 car parking spaces, applicable from 2025.

Electric cars will definitely flourish, even if it is left to develop on its own at its own pace, though it will also bring various design challenges. The industry should consider EV charging as an integral part of their architectural design process, to elevate the electric mobility of the country, rather than finding cut and paste solutions to already built structures.

About the author:
Minal Sarda
An Architect and Designer

Minal Sarda, an architect and designer, highly motivated by art, architecture & design, decor, and styling. With a well understanding of spaces and elements that create them, she loves to put down in words what inspires her. She had worked with Architectural Digest and is currently working with production designers as assistant art director..

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