Electric mobility is becoming more and more popular.  Particularly for commuting duties, electric motorcycle and scooter purchases are on the rise.  With many cities establishing low or zero-emission zones, electricity may be the answer for commuters traveling into cities.

While electric mobility is a topic of hot debate, one of the things that is often missing from the discussion is how people will be able to recharge their machines.  For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll leave out any discussion of how the energy will be produced or transmitted.  We’ll also not address whether electric mobility is a positive or negative thing for the environment.

Electric Mobility and charging infrastructure

While governments worldwide embrace electric mobility, there seems to be little discussion in the USA about the electric vehicle recharging infrastructure.  As a nation with a love affair with cars and motorcycles, just exactly how do we plan to support the recharging of millions of bikes and cars?

Unfortunately for electric mobility believers, the US does not appear to be extensively investing in electric recharging infrastructure.  According to the Department of Energy, there is presently about 41,400 electric vehicle charging stations in the US.  And fewer than 5,000 of the 41,000 electric vehicle charging stations are equipped with “fast charging” capability.

The number and types of electric charging stations compare poorly to the more than 136,400 US gas stations (according to GasBuddy).  Even after 10 years of Tesla building supercharging stations, gas stations outnumber electric charging stations more than three to one.  With the much longer “fueling” time for electric vehicles, it’s clear that the US’s electric vehicle infrastructure is presently not up to the task of meeting full large scale electric vehicle mobility.  If things stay the same, US electric mobility could be dead on arrival.

Plans for Indian charging infrastructure

One country that is taking electric vehicle infrastructure seriously is India.  In 2019, more than 152 thousand electrically powered two wheelers were sold.  That figure represents a 20.6% annual growth rate from 2014.  And with the Indian government pushing electric mobility, with proposals like free initial and subsequent registration of electric vehicles, it’s plain to see that the government wants people to use electric machines.

electric mobility

An bespoke solar motorcycle charging station made from a shipping container. Photo credit: UBCO

Because of this, Indian electric motorcycle and scooter manufacturers are taking steps towards the development of a robust charging infrastructure.  Indian electric scooter manufacturer Ola Electric is looking to build thousands of fast charging stations in what it calls its Hypercharger Network.

In addition, India’s third-largest powered two-wheeler manufacturer, TVS, is also working to accelerate the development of India’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.  The company is partnering with Convergence Energy, a subsidiary of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EEL).  Together, the two companies plan to develop an expansive network of fast-charging stations for the TVS iQube electric scooter.  Current plans call for electric vehicle charging stations in key urban locations.  You will be able to find recharging stations in dealerships, gasoline stations, and commercial centers.

Private companies and electric mobility charging infrastructure

Interestingly, the above recharging infrastructure preparations are not part of a governmental mandate or expenditure.  Both are happening with funds from private companies who see profit in providing charging services.  Particularly for TVS, the recharging network could make sense (and money).  According to Rideapart, once the recharging station network is complete, TVS and Convergence Energy will offer fast-charging services to owners of TVS’s iQube scooter on a subscription basis.

But it’s not only TVS and Ola Electric playing in the electric mobility recharging game.  Other India-based electric mobility companies are working to develop their own infrastructure.  India’s largest powered two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp, and Ather Energy are also partnering with Gogoro Electric.  They are also developing their own infrastructure.

Charging stations catering to their specific brand’s powered two-wheelers could give companies like TVS and Hero MotoCorp a leg up on their electrically powered two-wheeler competition.

Effects of a battery standard and swappable batteries

While electric charging stations could be part of electrically powered two-wheeler mobility solutions, what are the chances for its long-term survival?  Once a battery standard becomes a reality, interchangeable and swappable batteries, may become the norm.  If that’s the case, will there still be a demand for electrically powered two-wheeler charging stations?

Will people wait for a charging station while their bike recharges when they could simply remove and swap a pre-charged battery quickly and easily?     Under this scenario, does all the investment on recharging stations for powered two-wheelers make sense?

Complex issue

It’s clear that governments are moving towards electric mobility.  But what’s not so clear is how to support electric mobility.  Infrastructure is not yet ready to accommodate a mass move to electric mobility.  Nor are there standards that could make recharging easier.  One thing is for certain, however.  Electric mobility is a complex issue that requires forward thinking to make it an efficient reality.




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