Anticipating an Influx of Electric Cars, Indian Government Calls for Bids on Charging Stations

Because electric cars are useless if you can't charge them.

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India is growing into one of the world's largest car markets, making it a major source of transportation-related emissions. But the Indian government hopes to clean up the air with an aggressive electrification program.

The government is requesting bids for a network of electric car charging stations, reports the The Economic Times, and it wants them now. The request for bids went out Oct. 30, and calls for a company to supply 300 charging stations by Nov. 20. The request was issued in anticipation of the delivery of a large fleet of electric cars.

The bidding process will be overseen by Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., a corporation set up by India's Ministry of Power to manage energy efficiency infrastructure projects. EESL floated a tender for procurement of 4,000 charging stations earlier this year which drew interest from 14 companies, including ABB, Siemens, and Delat Power Solution India Ltd. However, most did not submit their charging equipment for testing, as required by EESL.

The new bid for 300 charging stations will support a fleet of 500 electric cars that EESL has on order. Supplied by Tata and Mahindra, the first cars are expected to be delivered Nov. 15. That explains the tight deadline for the charging stations.

This may be just the beginning, though. Last year, Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal proposed making every vehicle on the country's roads electric by 2030. While some countries have proposed ending sales of new gasoline and diesel cars in the coming decades, Goyal wanted to completely replace internal combustion with electric power in just under 15 years.

Goyal proposed an incentive program to make electric cars affordable enough for every Indian driver, but such a massive undertaking would require more government involvement. To begin with, the government would need to oversee the installation of a huge number of charging stations, and overhaul its electricity infrastructure. India's grid is among the dirtiest in the world, which would lower the overall environmental benefit of a fleet of electric cars.