No Battery Swapping for Tata Nexon electric & Tata Altroz electric – Report

Tata Motors will not be able to offer battery swapping feature for any of the electric cars that launch in India based on the existing platforms, a company official has confirmed.

“When we transition to dedicated electric vehicles, there might be a possibility, but I don’t see that coming in for another four to five years,” said Shailesh Chandra, the President of electric mobility at Tata Motors Ltd, to Free Press Journal.

This implies the Tata Nexon EV, the proposed Tata Altroz EV, the showcased Tata Tiago EV and perhaps the electric car to follow based on the Tata H2X mini SUV will not get this feature that buyers with the notion of range anxiety prevalent in EVs had called for as a backup to a wide charging infrastructure to turn in their petrol cars. Battery swapping is named as the single feature that will cut charging times and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in India where battery capacity will be limited to keep car prices approachable.

Volkswagen MEB platform image
Tata Motors will introduce battery swapping when its dedicated electric vehicle platform is ready. Currently it repurposes petrol-engined cars to run on a battery. Image: MEB platform credit Volkswagen AG.

Currently global car companies Tesla and Volkswagen are ones which have a dedicated platform for electric vehicles, the platform referring to the car’s technological backbone. Volkswagen in 2018 announced the MEB architecture which is envisioned to support 10 million electric cars across the group’s brands worldwide in the first phase.

The existing and proposed electric cars from Tata Motors are repurposed petrol-engined vehicles which swap out all engine bay parts and exhaust to make space for the motor, controller and power electronics and the battery placed underneath the car. Given the slow adoption of electric vehicles in India, it makes no financial sense for Tata Motors to invest in a pure electric platform at least for a few years.

Chandra also said there was a safety and durability issue with swapping batteries as the connectors would have to be plugged and connected during the process at the station. This, however, can be addressed with robustly-built hardware and well-trained technicians as well as prescribing secondary safety checks before releasing the vehicle back on the road.

Companies like the Bengaluru-based Sun Mobility (official video embedded above), Gurgaon-based Exicom Power Solutions and 22 Kymco, an alliance between Twenty Two Motors Pvt Ltd and Taiwan’s Kymco Global are those which are working on battery swapping, while the Revolt e-motorcycle that went on sale earlier this year also allows riders to visit swapping stations to load a fresh battery.

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