Honda to kick off EV battery swapping in Bengaluru by June

HondaJapanese auto major Honda Motor will start offering battery-swapping service to electric three-wheelers in Bengaluru by the end of June, seeking to test the market in India’s tech capital before entering other cities and the two-wheeler segment with the service.

The company will begin with seven stations before scaling up to 50 over the next 18 months, Karnataka’s commissioner for industries, Gunjan Krishna, led the talks with the company.

Honda did its proof-of-concept experiment in Mumbai, but has opted for Bengaluru to launch the service, she said.

The auto major has already set up a subsidiary, Honda Power Pack Energy India, to roll out the business and has invested Rs 135 crore. The company will make continuous investments to step up the battery sharing network, Kiyoshi Ito, the subsidiary’s chairman and managing director, said in an emailed response to queries.

The network expansion in the Bengaluru city will happen in a phased manner. The company hopes its battery-sharing service will accelerate the penetration of electric vehicles (EVs) as it will address the issues of range anxiety, cost of vehicle and waiting time for charging.

The Japanese multinational will initially look at the three-wheeler segment as e-autos are used for short-distance goods transport as well. The company thinks ecommerce and logistics will drive demand for e-autos.

Honda is working with multiple vehicle makers to help them integrate its India-made batteries into their vehicles, Ito said, declining to name them.

Many companies including Piaggio, Mahindra Treo, Greaves Mobility Altigreen and Euler are into electric three-wheelers.

According to Honda, more drivers can buy EVs when three-wheelers are sold without batteries.

Federation of Auto Dealers Association’s Karnataka chapter chairman MP Shyam said without batteries, EVs will be much more affordable as batteries account for about 40% of the cost. “A battery-sharing service will cut so much in capital cost for drivers,” he said, and added Honda’s battery service will boost EV adoption and help ecommerce firms address their last-mile delivery challenges.

Karnataka has been aggressively pursuing EV adoption, and even tweaked its electric vehicle & storage policy a few months ago, to stay competitive with other states about concessions and incentives to investors.

The state’s subsidy to the EV sector applies to EV assembly, manufacturing, component manufacturing, battery-pack module manufacturing, EV charging infrastructure equipment manufacturing and a few other EV production-related units.

The 2017 EV policy seeks to generate investments of Rs 31,000 crore in R&D and manufacturing. Since then, several states including Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have brought out their own policies.

Bengaluru is home to promising EV startups in the country such as Ola Electric, Sun Mobility and Ather.

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