Laying the Groundwork for Electric Vehicle Roaming in India


The study discusses the introduction of interoperability and electric vehicle (EV) roaming as means to strengthen India’s public charging space. Part of a collaboration with eDRV, the study identifies focus areas for interoperability in EV charging. Further, the three levers necessary for introducing EV roaming are examined.

The lack of a charging infrastructure is a key barrier hampering India’s e-mobility ambitions. The study discusses how interoperability and electric vehicle (EV) roaming can boost user demand and aggregate charger supply, thereby catalysing the entire EV ecosystem. As a public policy consultation exercise, the report consolidates inputs from a diverse group of stakeholders to suggest a blueprint for establishing roaming in India.

Key highlights 

Interoperability and EV roaming are compelling instruments to resolve the confusion and fragmentation surrounding EV charging in India. Interoperability is most urgently required in wired charging at public stations, and needs to be part of the central government’s existing initiative to bring standardisation to EV charging. Interoperability enables EV roaming, which can bridge the gap between the consumer’s expectations and the existing market offering. Introducing EV roaming requires an examination of the policy, technology, and business context surrounding charging.

Source: CEEW-CEF analysis

A typical roaming transaction involves an exchange of electrons, money, and information – each of which operates in a regulated sphere. EV roaming should be permitted and regulated by suitably tweaking existing policies. Creating open databases of public charging stations accessible to users, opening government-supported charging stations to third-party aggregation, and including roaming fees as part of service charges are some of the boundary conditions required to make EV roaming viable.

On the technology front, India needs to establish a single standard for roaming by selecting a protocol. This decision should not be left solely to market forces and merits urgent inclusion in the government’s efforts to define domestic charging standards. Several existing standards and 1 upcoming standard are available globally. Adopting an existing protocol, such as the Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI), appears to be the best choice for India.

On the business side, EV roaming requires selective collaboration between market participants who will otherwise compete against one another. The business of roaming continues to evolve rapidly in step with the dynamic market for charging. Multiple business models exist today, and the framework for EV roaming in India should be flexible enough to allow commercial innovation to continue apace.

Source: CEEW-CEF analysis

The building blocks for any charging network to add roaming are fivefold: authentication, authorisation, information recording and exchange, monetary exchange and data security and privacy. While public charging in India already has many of these features, harmonising may be required to bring consistency and completeness to the roaming experience. Further, a three-step plan is suggested to build traction for EV roaming in India, in step with the evolution of the larger charging ecosystem.

Source: CEEW-CEF analysis

Key recommendations

Source: CEEW-CEF analysis
    July 2021
    Sidhartha Maheshwari, Meghna Nair
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