The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) plans to set up 140 additional electric vehicle charging stations across Bengaluru in the next six months as a part of efforts to boost usage of electric vehicles in the city. This will be in addition to the 136 stations installed at 70 locations.
The demand for electric vehicles, especially two-wheelers, has seen a steady uptick with new players like Ola entering the electric scooter market.
According to officials in the BESCOM, there are 18,000 electric vehicles operating in Bengaluru and 30,000 in the state inclusive of two, three and four wheelers.
Two-wheelers make up the majority of vehicles in Bengaluru with over 64 lakh two-wheelers being registered in the city as of 2020 (out of a total of over 84 lakh non-transport vehicles). The city recorded a growth of nearly seven percent in newly-registered two-wheelers last year, according to data from the Karnataka transport department.
Deputy general manager, Smart Grid and Electric Vehicles, BESCOM, C K Sreenath told The Indian Express that each station will have seven charging points. “We have big plans to boost the adoption of electric vehicles. Presently, there are 136 charging stations installed by us and another 140 will be installed in the next six months,” he said.
BESCOM has requested the Department of Personnel Administration and Reforms (DPAR) to write to the concerned government departments considering the transition to electric vehicles. He said a few Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) had approached BESCOM to facilitate installation of charging stations at their apartments. “We are in touch with the RWAs. They have identified apartments in the city where charging stations can be installed. We are facilitating them,” he said.
Last year the state transport department had entered into an MoU with BESCOM to establish 100 AC and 26 DC charging stations in Bengaluru at a cost of Rs four crores.
“These charging stations can be viewed through mobile apps and the charging unit fee can be paid online. Further, it is proposed to establish such charging units on highways of the state,” the transport department had said in a 2020 report.
According to the member secretary of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Srinivasulu, the adoption of electric vehicles has increased over time. “We had prepared a 48-point action plan to bring down the level of pollution in the city. In the action plan, we stressed on the usage of electric vehicles. In fact, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation have plans to come up with electric vehicles,” he said.
“Electric vehicles will definitely reduce the impact of air pollution. EVs will certainly not reduce traffic congestion, which will continue irrespective of fuel-based or electric vehicles being introduced. At least pollution from idling and slow-moving traffic can be reduced through EVs during congestion,” said Mahesh Kashyap, an environmental consultant.
General secretary of the Bangalore Apartments Federation (BAF), Vikram Rai said it is too early to confirm if there is any clear increase in buyer/users of EVs. “There is definitely a higher degree of interest and enquiry about EV charging setups, as evident from the communication groups of RWAs seeking information,” he said.
“Our focus is to encourage RWAs to install community charging infrastructure, so that EV buyers feel that charging at apartments is not a hassle and they have a facility for that. We have been engaged with BESCOM and a few charging equipment vendors. We have put out a white paper for interested member RWAs and a few are exploring pilot installations of charging stations,” Rai said.
“There are still some challenges. The options of both cost-effective two-wheelers and four-wheelers in the EV segment are still limited and would take some time to come through. Also, in an RWA setting, getting approvals for investments on infrastructure like community charging stations is tough since only a few users are owning or interested in owning EVs,” Rai said.