With a rapid transformation in electric mobility, over 15 states in India are moving forward with electric vehicle (EV) plans. Shifting to EVs also helps reduce India’s chronic air pollution problems and climate emissions while supporting COVID-19 economic recovering efforts. For the shift, a strong public charging system is needed to support robust EV use.

India is set to bring nearly 2600 EV charging stations online across the country under the FAME II scheme and it is important to choose the smartest places to put them. A crucial question is “where” to site the stations to ensure that charging stations are easily accessible and to improve the cost economics and utilization of the stations. The type of chargers installed is also critical to meeting customers’ needs. The locations of the initial chargers need to stimulate further growth and adoption of EVs.

Our research shows that the hybrid approach that uses both technical modeling and stakeholder participation can be applied effectively for planning chargers for Indian cities. An advantage of the hybrid approach is that it makes initial planning for larger regions more manageable by utilizing existing data to develop an initial plan for stakeholders to react to and inform. In the later phase before implementation, stakeholder engagement and local knowledge can then be focused on “filling in the gaps” between the modeling results and reality.

Given that many Indian cities may be able to secure active stakeholder involvement but may have limited data and resources, the hybrid approach is potentially appealing. An initial modeling phase followed by stakeholder discussions can ensure the selections are viable in the real world, and that sites are selected with holistic engineering, economic, and policy considerations to have high utilization.

To optimally site charging stations, it is essential to gather inputs from government departments, electricity distribution companies, charging service providers, fleet aggregators, among others. Some of the key considerations for stakeholders include:

  • For charging service providers, key aspects include safe 24-hour access to all drivers; high visibility of chargers with multiple overlapping locations to avoid range anxiety; close proximity to services, such as restaurants, offices and shopping complexes; and that the chargers are on a connected platform for customer convenience.
  • For utilities, providing support in terms of discounted peak and off-peak rates as compared to the standard commercial rates is a key consideration. Utilities also plan to support EV charging stations by providing connection releases and special services to address EV issues as part of their customer management.
  • For builders and city officials, it is important to locate EV charging stations in government buildings, as well as, commercial buildings as part of the Energy Conservation Building Code and potentially high-rise residential buildings and multi-level parking lots.

Moving to electric vehicles is a major opportunity for the Indian economy to reduce air pollution, save energy, and reduce carbon pollution. State action supporting charging infrastructure deployment is a key element to advancing electric mobility in India.