IIT Madras Research Park is working on a model of electric vehicle which will have swappable battery. Centre for Battery Engineering and Electric Vehicles (CBEEV) at IIT Madras Research Park has developed the prototype of a battery that can be externally charged and attached to a vehicle. It is expected that this will be in the market by the end of this year.

The indigenous Lithium-Ion battery can be externally charged and installed in a vehicle is not yet available in the market. Prototypes of the battery is being tested at IIT Madras Research Park.

A start-up of IIT Madras Research Park had developed an electric scooter a few years ago which is now in the market. Ather Energy had built the smart electric scooter. That seemed to be the beginning only. Now CBEEV is taking the story further.

The cost of the battery will be affordable as compared to a Tesla battery that makes a car run for 600 km non-stop. A Tesla car costs a whopping Rs. 20 lakh apart from the cost of importing it.

Almost all the automobile companies, including Goenka, Lohia, Kinetic, Mahindra and Hero, are interested in launching swappable battery vehicles. These automobile companies are working with the IIT Madras Research Park to make these batteries commercially viable.

These batteries are being tested on all types of vehicles, including e-rickshaws and e-scooters. Even buses can be run on these batteries. But, at present, they are at an experimental stage.

“If these batteries are used widely, there will be no need to import batteries. Importing batteries for electric vehicles will impact the economy hugely as six percent of GDP depends on automobiles,” said Faculty InCharge of IIT Madras, Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala.

Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala who was chairman of Technology Advisory Group for Electric Mobility, said that one can cover any distance using the battery-swappable vehicles. But one would need a sound battery swapping infrastructure.

To make it safer and secure, it can be charged only at authorized centres and can be mounted in vehicles that have been authenticated for it. Therefore these encrypted Lithium-Ion batteries are called Locked Smart Batteries.

Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala says that swapping points can be set up at Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum outlets. Once the battery gets discharged, one can get a charged batteries from these authorized centres. “As a result, one need not depend on charging facility at home. And one can go to any distance. After a battery gets discharged after 100 km one can swap it for a charged battery at a swapping point,” said Jhunjhunwala.

Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Chairman of IIT Madras Research Park, said that a certain number of vehicles need to adopt these type of batteries to allow this model to work and there has to be some kind of policy. “These are standardised batteries and there is no chance of any company having a monopoly over these,” said Prof Ramamurthi.