How Delhi Govt’s Open Database Facility for Charging, Battery-Swapping Stations Will Drive Adoption of EVs

To bring all-electric vehicle players onto a single platform, the Delhi government has launched an open database facility for EV charging and battery-swapping stations on its ‘Switch Delhi’ portal.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the Delhi government created an open database for bus transit in 2021, which was a huge success, and Google, Uber as well as many other companies use the same method.

The Delhi Electric Vehicles (EV) policy, which was announced in 2020, states in clause 6.4.2, “An open, publicly-owned database shall be developed by Transport Department, GNCTD, offering historical and real-time information on public charging infrastructure….”

The transport department has now established an open, publicly-owned database in accordance with the directive of the policy.

How it Works

Through the ev.delhi.gov.in/openev portal, registered entities and individuals can access the database to submit and retrieve historical and current information about public charging and swapping infrastructure, according to the officials.

After registering on the open database portal, charging service providers can submit a request through the portal to access data related to all EV chargers and battery-swapping stations in both static and dynamic formats.

A private API key will be instantly shared when the request is made in order to access dynamic data.

Within 48 hours of the request’s submission, they would decide whether to approve it, said officials.

It was also said all organisations running public and/or semi-public EV charging or swapping stations are required by the Delhi EV policy to submit data to the open database within three weeks of the order’s notification.

The database is available to charging apps and maps as well as in-car navigation systems for free.

Benefits

After the announcement of this news, News18 spoke to a few industry insiders to understand the further benefits of such a decision.

RK Misra, co-founder of Yulu, said the biggest barriers to a quicker uptake of EVs in the nation are range anxiety and access to 24-hour public facilities.

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Misra said: “Delhi Government’s open database will be a useful ready reckoner for existing EV owners as well those looking to own an EV. The timing of the initiative is perfect as there are still a couple of years left to avail incentives under both FAME II term and Delhi EV policy.”

He noted that in terms of promoting EV adoption and fostering the EV ecosystem, the Delhi government is one of India’s most progressive states.

“Given the market dynamics, Delhi has unilaterally focused on demand generation for electric vehicles across a range of form factors such as buses, E2Ws, E3Ws and Electric Cycles,” he added.

Furthermore, the industry expert said: “The government has created a land bank through consolidation of resources across land-owning agencies in the state to enable a tender for setting up EV charging stations offering to charge at the lowest rates in the world.”

However, he believes that there is a need for facilitation when applying for licences like trade, permission to operate 24 hours a day like petrol pumps under various laws, and facilitation under various environmental laws for e-mobility services and BaaS providers like Yulu.

“Owing to the shortage of land in public spaces, several operators are tying up with Mom & Pop stores and malls that are not allowed to operate 24×7,” he added.

Additionally, he said: “Hence, EV owners can’t access charged batteries at will. They are forced to maintain a watch on the opening and closing hours of these private facilities to ensure they have ample juice left in the battery at all times.”

Misra also said the Indian battery swapping market is still not truly interoperable and as a result, the database will also need to eliminate incompatible operators.

According to him, with EV chargers, which have already been standardised, the same problems might not apply.

Even though the database allows for real-time data sharing by BaaS operators, demand-supply management issues may still exist in a few hotspot locations in Delhi, he pointed out.

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“Imagine a situation where a consumer sees the availability of a charged battery at a location or the availability of parking spot at an EV charger, but turns up at the site to find that the spots have already been availed by someone else,” Misra said.

“We don’t see this problem with petrol or diesel pumps. But for relatively newer fuels like CNG, congestion at the site is still an issue across cities including Delhi,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kartik Hajela, Co-Founder & COO of Log9 Materials applauded the Delhi government’s move and said it is a big step in bringing these chargers on one single platform.

He believes that it will further consolidate Delhi’s position as a state that has been a pioneer in such innovative initiatives for EV-enablement.

Hajela also noted that scattered data of chargers and accessibility of the same through multiple apps has been one of the biggest bottlenecks for the adoption of EVs, as it creates anxiety about charger availability.

“What’ll be further beneficial is if not only location but functions like checking availability, booking and paying for the same is made available in the form of APIs through this database, so that a single app or platform can be used by EV-users rather than having to download multiple apps and checking through each of those to find an available charger nearby, which is a exhausting and complex process,” Hajela stated.

Nitin Kapoor, Managing Director of Saera Electric Auto Private Limited, told News18 that with the database, EV players will get open access to over 2,500 charging points in Delhi and they can further develop platforms to provide seamless information about charging and battery-swapping stations to all EV users in Delhi. According to him, this number is expected to reach 18,000 by 2025.

Kapoor said: “The database can be accessed by the registered entities and individuals for submission and retrieval of historical and real-time information pertaining to public charging and swapping infrastructure. This will help solve the problem of locating EV charging stations at different locations.”

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Ankit Mittal, Co-Founder & CEO of Sheru, said, “Delhi’s progressive EV policy has made it the leader in the adoption of EVs in the country”.

However, he noted that one of the concerns that EV owners have is the vehicle’s range as well as the lack of charging infrastructure, and to address this, a strong charging infrastructure within the city is required.

Mittal said: “The absence of a single database to access information about the charging points has resulted in customers not being completely aware of where they can charge their vehicles.”

“The Open Database released by the Delhi government would help solve this by collecting the data and providing it to customers. We feel that this initiative will further drive forward the adoption of EVs in the city and make it a hassle-free experience to own a vehicle,” he noted.

However, regarding the latest move, Nawneet Vibhaw, Partner Environment Law, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. said cleaner mobility is a must in a city like Delhi, which has the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted in the world, and the new EV policy will undoubtedly help.

He believes: “Range anxiety due to the absence of sufficient charging infrastructure is the biggest concern for existing EV owners and potential buyers. The open database for EV charging is exactly what is required not just in Delhi but across the country to encourage the use of EVs.”

“It is a commendable and innovative initiative by the Delhi government and will encourage people to switch to EVs. It will also encourage investments in charging points and battery swapping stations thus speeding up our transition to clean mobility in Delhi and across the country,” added Vibhaw.

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