Oil companies enter electric charging biz

With union transport minister Nitin Gadkari pushing the use of electric vehicles, PSU oil companies are entering the sector too.

Both Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), on Sunday, launched charging points for electric cars at one of their petrol pumps each at RBI Square and Lakadganj respectively

There are plans to gradually expand the operations in Nagpur as well as other cities. This comes after Gadkari’s insistence to start points at petrol pumps which can make battery charging convenient for electric car users, say sources.

Sources involved in the development said, “A meeting was held at the district collectorate a few months ago and all the three PSU oil companies were requested to shortlists 10 pumps for setting up the stations.”

At present, IOC and HPCL are starting with one charging station each. The petroleum and safety organization (PESO), the government agency which regulates safety in the sector, has given approvals for 12 sites of all the companies. The other stations are expected to open eventually.

Competition is already evident among the oil companies in the sector. IOC has tied up Ola which has electric cabs. Ola will be using the space at IOC’s retail outlet at RBI Square. HPCL, on the other hand, has gone one step ahead. It has directly purchased a charging dock and the service is open to all vehicles.

In May this year, Ola flagged off its first electric taxi from the city. It has also tied up auto major Mahindra & Mahindra for buying 250 vehicles. The effort was backed by Gadkari. With Ola plying electric cars in the city, it makes the major client for the charging outlets.

Ola has said it has started the country’s fast charging station which has the capacity to fully charge the battery in less than 90 minutes. Ola also has its own charging station at the airport.

“We have already started calling IOC as an energy company. This means, apart from oil, we are also eyeing other forms of renewable energy,’ said Murali Srvinivasan, the company’s executive director (marketing) for Maharashtra.

IOC owns as much as 50% of the retail outlets, which are being eyed as potential charging stations. Apart from Nagpur, charging station will be started in Vijayawada and Vizag. “Even the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is keen on promoting electric cars. There are plans to start seven more stations in the city in coming six months and 1,000 in the country in next 2-3 years,” he said.

The petroleum business is growing by 5% to 7% annually since last 15 years. Till 2030 when the number of electric cars is expected to reach a substantial level, the growth is not seen to be affected. Moreover, the loss incremental growth can be compensated by the electric car charging business.

Stakeholders in the business, including oil companies, are in talks with the government to come up with a tariff band for charging so that it can streamline operations said, Srinivasan.

“HPCL claims that, technically, it is the first company to start electric charging, as it has its own charging station instead of only letting out space,” say officials. The charging unit has been procured from a Chennai company.

HPCL’s chief general manager (retail), Kanuru Srvinivas said it has got a permission to start a charging station at Chinchbhuvan also. The station at Lakadganj has been started as a pilot project. Based on its success, more units will be started.

Source- ET Auto