Steps to Establish Your Own EV Charging Station Business in India

Steps to Establish Your Own EV Charging Station Business in India

Delve into what it takes to establish an EV charging station business in India. Understand the various legal and technical requirements involved.

Introduction

If you take a random survey of the vehicles on an average Indian road, chances are you’ll find plenty of electric vehicles (EVs) in the mix. January 2024 alone saw around 1.4 million registrations of EVs in the country.  

ev charging station business in india

India’s FAME subsidy, and a steady push for consumers to adopt EVs, has resulted in a shift in interest from Internal Combustion Engine vehicles to EVs that now includes major four-wheeler manufacturers entering the fray. A growing number of automobile manufacturers in India are now offering electric vehicles in their lineups, reflecting the industry's shift towards e-mobility. This shift is driven by a growing concern for environmental sustainability, coupled with government initiatives promoting e-mobility. 

However, a critical factor hindering widespread EV adoption is the lack of robust charging infrastructure, especially in major city centres, smaller towns, and highways. One of the biggest concerns that EV consumers share is “range anxiety”, a phenomenon that can make or break a purchase. With NITI Aayog predicting EVs to have a 30% market share by the year 2030, this presents a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to establish EV charging station businesses, and cater to this growing demand. 

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the process for setting up an EV charging station in India. It covers essential aspects like market research, legal and regulatory requirements, site selection, equipment installation, operational strategies, financial considerations, and a few parting thoughts. 

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Understanding The EV Market

Before diving in, thorough market research is crucial. This involves:

Understanding Local Demand and Competition

EVs are still relatively new to India. While this does present the perfect business opportunity, it also means that consumer adoption can be hesitant. This is especially true for Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Analyse the current and projected growth of EVs in your target area. Identify existing charging stations, and potential competitor locations.

Identifying Preferred Charging Types

EVs all have different battery capacities and charging capabilities. Find two tables for the different types of chargers used by Indian manufacturers below: 

ev charging station business in india
Identifying Preferred Charging Types

Strategic Placement And Viability

Choose locations with high visibility and convenient access for EV users. Parking lots in city centres could be an ideal point, or rest stops on highways. You will also have to evaluate the feasibility of your project based on factors like location (consider that India’s power grid is still in the developing stages when it comes to support for EVs), power supply capacity, charging standard compatibility, and your chosen business model. 

Choosing the Right Business Model

There are two primary business models for EV charging stations:

  • Pay-Per-Use: Users pay a fee directly proportional to the electricity consumed during charging. This is currently the most common method of payment for third party charging stations in India, and is easier and more economical to use for consumers.

  • Subscription-Based: Users pay a periodic subscription fee for unlimited charging within a specific timeframe. This is the method some manufacturers have chosen to develop and sell when it comes to their own charging network. This ensures a stress-free experience and saves a lot of time for consumers, especially those already in the manufacturer’s ecosystem. 

Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Operating an EV charging station requires adherence to specific government policies and regulations. Here's what you need to know:

Understanding Government Policies

The Indian government actively promotes e-mobility through various initiatives, and there are currently no major licences required to set up EV charging station businesses in India, a significant advantage to developers. Familiarise yourself with the FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India) scheme as well.

Obtaining Licences and Approvals

While you do not need a direct licence to start an EV charging station, you will still need approvals from commercial complexes or residential areas, the Indian Ministry of Power (MoP), the Bureau of Electricity Efficiency (BEE), and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). You will also likely need approvals from your state’s electricity board. You are also required to periodically share data on your charging stations with the BEE, such as the amount of electricity used, power consumption relative to the number of consumers, etc. 

Ensuring Compliance with Standards

Ensure your charging stations comply with safety and technical standards set forth by the various regulatory authorities we’ve listed above. The BEE guidelines state that you must have a transformer of your own, and the accompanying equipment, adequate cabling work, surge protection and fire protection, and a thorough list of more specifications. The last thing you would want in an ecosystem that is still in the early adoption phase, is a safety issue. 

Partnering with a Network Service Provider

The MoP also specifies that an EV charging station business in India must establish a partnership with a Network Service Provider to facilitate advance booking of charging slots, displaying availability of chargers, displaying your entire network of charging stations, the rates for charging, and so on.  

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Site Selection and Technical Preparations

Choosing an optimal location is crucial for maximising your station’s usage and subsequent revenue. Consider these factors:

Ensuring Proper Power Supply

Whatever location you do decide on has to be fully powered, with the relevant permissions granted. EVs consumed over 204 million units of electricity in India in 2023, where 1 unit = 1KWh. Make sure that you are located close to the grid, and that backup options are available. Some parts of the world are now installing solar-based charging stations: An idea to consider if your location has sample space to install solar panels and is located in an area with ample sunlight. 

Accessibility

Prioritise locations with easy entry and exit points for vehicles. Ample parking space is also essential, especially considering that more consumers may switch to EVs in the future, and you won’t face problems in scaling. And do ensure that chargers are also located in strategic places within the station, such that consumers do not have to struggle with properly parking their vehicles. 

EV Company Preferences

Some EV manufacturers and their consumers may have specific location preferences for charging stations, particularly near company dealerships or service centres. Consider partnering with such companies, they may also offer you technical support in lieu of promoting their own brand. This also helps in ensuring that vehicles from multiple manufacturers with different charging standards can all use the same space. 

Residential vs. Commercial Setups

Residential setups require dedicated parking spaces with sufficient power supply. Commercial setups might involve partnerships with malls, restaurants, or office buildings, offering additional benefits like customer dwell time during charging. However, the permits for both vary greatly, as using residential power supply for a charging station business may not be allowed in some areas, and a business in a commercial establishment will require a different set of permissions and fees that may be higher. 

Equipment and Installation

Without the right equipment at a charging station, users will not adapt to EVs quickly. It is vital for smooth operation and user satisfaction that you get a grasp of what the market is currently trending towards in terms of chargers, charging times and battery standards. Here's what to consider:

Charger Mix and Compatibility 

Choose a mix of charger types (slow, fast, and rapid) to cater to a wider range of EVs with varying battery capacities. Ensure compatibility with prevalent charging standards like Bharat DC (BCDC) and CCS/Combo.

Installation and Safety Measures

Partner with experienced professionals for installation of chargers and essential infrastructure components. Ensure compliance with the BEE, MoP and the CEA. You will also have to get your station’s equipment certified by the National Accreditation Board for testing and calibration Laboratory (NABL) periodically. 

Charging Management Software: The Brain of Your Station

If your charging station is the lifeline for EV chargers, an EV platform that handles operations and payments is the central unit for all of your business’s aspects to come together in a concise manner. EV charging stations are almost never controlled manually, and most are left completely alone for consumers to operate, which requires significant management over the air.  

Station Settings and User Access

Set charging rates, define time limits for sessions, and manage user access through the software. You can also create different user profiles with varying access levels and pricing options. We talked about pay-per-use and subscription-based models; charging management software will let you do both. This also ensures that no one is bleeding power from your station without you realising it, and comes with failsafes such as remote disabling. 

Real-time Monitoring and Reporting

You can track the real-time status of each charger (available, in use, experiencing issues) and ensure that no consumer is left behind when it comes to charging. This also gives you an idea into your station’s revenue. Charging management software can also trigger alerts for potential problems, enabling proactive maintenance.

Payment Processing Integration

Seamlessly integrate your chosen payment gateway with the software for secure and convenient transactions by users. The majority of people may prefer paying with UPI apps rather than credit or debit cards, Netbanking, etc, given how much faster it is. Ensure that your software has UPI options integrated directly into the payment gateway.

Operational Strategies For A Charging Station

It’s one thing to successfully build an EV charging station in India. But for consumers to adopt your station, you need to keep several strategies in mind: 

Get The Word Out

We’ve mentioned that EVs are a growing, but still nascent product, and charging is one of the most important considerations for any user to adopt EVs. Spreading the word about your charging station business can potentially put many minds at ease, and ensure that you actually have a steady stream of customers that rely on your station. If you’ve partnered with other manufacturers for charging equipment or locations, collaborate with them on social media as well! 

Keep A Steady Maintenance Schedule

A badly maintained charging station will almost instantly put customers off from entering the premises. It can also bring in regulatory authorities questioning the validity of the equipment and even your business as a whole. With the help of management software, ensure that your equipment is up to code, that users have adequate facilities to avail of while their vehicles are being charged, and schedule periodic maintenance on ALL the equipment well in advance. It’s okay to have a little downtime for a much smoother operation in the future. 

A rough maintenance schedule can be viewed below: 

ev charging station business in india
Keep A Steady Maintenance Schedule

Conclusion: The Future Of India is Electric

There has never been a more exciting time for India’s EV landscape. With a clear focus on moving to cleaner alternatives for transportation, it’s vital that the infrastructure for this adoption comes up, and fast. By establishing your own EV charging station, you'll be playing a vital role in bridging this gap and accelerating the transition to sustainable transportation. At Pulse Energy, we understand the immense potential of the EV charging sector in India. Pulse offers the perfect platform to start an EV charging station business in India, as well as fleet management software for companies, an API platform that lets you seamlessly integrate your EV station with other software, and more.

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