Karachi gearing up for e-vehicle charging at lightning speeds

Published June 15, 2022
AN electric vehicle is being charged at a rapid charging station near the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
AN electric vehicle is being charged at a rapid charging station near the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Two leading German companies, Audi in collaboration with Siemens unveiled Pakistan’s first and only ultra-rapid DC charging station equipped with Siemens SICHARGE D series chargers with speeds up to 160kw at the Libra CNG Station, which is now also known as the Libra Charging Hub, in Saddar here on Tuesday.

In his welcome address, Abdul Haseeb Khan, CEO of Libra Energy Solutions, said that his family has been in the oil business for the last 50 years now. Then his father, Abdul Sami Khan, started the first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station here in the 1990s. And now he has also brought in an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station.

He requested the government for a subsidy to make charging EVs cheaper. He also requested electric pole-mounted transformers (PMTs) along highways to make it possible for them install more such charging stations there. “That way you will be able to easily drive your EV from here to Murree,” he said.

Pakistan’s first ultra-rapid EV charging station launched

Siemens-Pakistan chief Markus Strohmeier said that he carried the greatest respect for Libra Energy’s initiative for stepping into unknown territory back in the 1990s with CNG and now with the charging hub. “Karachi has shown us that it is at the forefront of integrating technology.”

Providing some details about their particular charging station, he said that it is the first rapid charger in Pakistan that will take only 15 minutes to charge bigger cars such as the Audi e-tron and just four or five minutes to charge smaller EVs.

“Your highways really need to be equipped with such charging stations. It will be a small investment to see the cars move from city to city,” he said, while pointing out that there is plenty of vacant land alongside our highways, which can be turned into solar farms.

Speaking on the occasion, Karachi Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that he was thankful to people like Abdul Sami Khan to have thought of CNG over 30 years ago and still adapting to the changing times by turning his CNG station into a charging station.

“I also privately use an EV and want to tell you that those who have moved to these vehicles have cut all their fuel costs. In 2022, fuel prices are on an all-time high. And these vehicles are also environment friendly as you always have renewable energy thanks to the sun and the wind,” he said.

He said then that as the administrator of Karachi, he can find out about convenient locations in the city for setting up charging hubs. “The KMC is with you and we can convince other petrol pumps and gas stations to also turn to this technology. And I can help in policy and legislation for this as well as EVs can also help save the environment. For setting up charging hubs along the highway, I can speak to the federal government as they are also looking for cost cutting solutions,” he said.

He added that there are several parks here that come under the KMC which they can turn into solar parks. “We are doing this already at Kidney Hill and Safari Park in order to bear street light costs,” he said.

Finally, Germany’s Ambassador to Pakistan Hon Bernhard Schlagheck said that he was particularly pleased to be present at the inauguration of this example of brand new German innovation.

“The future is electric. We are learning that more and more today in times of climate change and global warming. However, electro-based mobility also requires a corresponding infrastructure. I am pleased that another step in this direction is being taken here,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2022

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