Currently, the city has 284 charging stations; the target is to have one EV charging station every three kilometers.
Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) is set to launch 140 more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations by January next year, in addition to its already existing count of 284. This will take the city’s total count to 424 EV charging stations, which still falls short of the government’s target of setting up 1000 EV stations under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
Vijay, Assistant General Manager, BESCOM, said, “We have 284 charging stations in the city. BESCOM’s website shows 136 as it hasn’t been updated yet.” The first public electric vehicle charging station in Karnataka was installed in 2018.
Vijay said, “The footfall at these stations has doubled post the pandemic and now, we are targeting one EV station at every three kilometers to meet the consumers’ needs. We have floated tenders for more stations and if all goes well, Bengaluru will have 1,190 EV charging stations in the next few years.”
Statistics provided by the Department of Transportation show that Karnataka is one of the top five states with the highest number of electric vehicles. The number stood at 33,307 in 2021, which was 242 percent more than in 2020.
Radhe Sham, who drove 15 kilometers to find a vacant spot at a charging station, said, “Usually we have to drive five to seven kilometers searching for a charging station. After finding one, we wait for our turn as most of them are already occupied.”
Bangalore has two types of chargers across the city – Alternating Current (AC) slow chargers and Direct Current (DC) fast chargers. EV Box states, “The main difference between AC and DC charging is the conversion from AC to DC. It happens within the charging station, allowing DC power to flow directly from the station and into the battery. No matter whether an EV uses an AC or DC charging station, the EV’s battery will still only store DC energy. Because the conversion process happens inside the more spacious charging station and not the EV, larger converters can be used to convert AC power from the grid very quickly. As a result, some DC stations can provide up to 350 kilowatt of power and fully charge an EV in 15 minutes.”
Currently, Bangalore has 26 DC fast chargers and 100 AC slow chargers.
The lack of proper parking spaces outside these charging stations is another challenge for drivers since it takes an hour to charge a car and two if it is to be charged from scratch. Radhe Sham said, “If all the stations are occupied, we have to park our vehicles outside as there are no proper parking facilities outside any charging station.” He added that the drivers park their cars near Cubbon Park when they have to wait for their turn at BESCOM Office’s charging station, as drivers are fined when they park outside the office.
The BESCOM Office’s charging station that can charge four vehicles at a time witnesses a footfall of 20-30 vehicles every day, Jayant, in-charge of BESCOM EV charging station, said. Tejas, a 20-year-old man who has been using an electric two-wheeler for the last three months, said, “It takes me two hours to charge my bike at a BESCOM charging station, whereas the private stations can charge it in just one hour. And, sometimes they aren’t even functioning properly and we users fix them ourselves.”
Vijay said, “Different companies have different apps for locating their respective charging stations. We need to form a common platform so that it becomes easier for users to find the nearest charging station.”
Sekhar Vajjala, who has been in the transport industry for the last 30 years, said, “India meets 70 percent of its energy demands through the thermal sector. The generation of electricity for these vehicles itself comes from a non-renewable resource. This is a big flaw with electric vehicles in India. We need to generate this electricity from solar panels or any other renewable source of energy to avail of its substantial benefits.”