Roads : Electric Vehicles

  • Electric Vehicles (EVs) and how government is planning to achieve its targets related to EVs.
  • The government has been working to effect a radical shift in India’s energy production and consumption patterns to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  • Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, published that air pollution attributed to an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths globally, with 1.1 million being from India.
  • World Health Organisation’s urban air quality database had found four Indian cities to be among the world’s 10 most polluted.
  • The database also placed 10 Indian cities in the 20 worst list.
  • Between 2019-20 and 2020-21,
    • The sale of two-wheeler EVs increased by 422%
    • The sale of three-wheelers increased by 75%
    • The sale of four-wheelers increased by 230%
    • The number of electric buses also saw an increase of about 1,200%
  • According to the reports, the number of EVs registered in 2021 was 1.7% of petrol and diesel vehicles registered.
NITI Aayog’s report on mobility transformation
  • The government intends that all vehicles sold in India by 2030 should be electric.
  • A recently released NITI Aayog report on mobility transformation outlines a feasible and phased approach to achieve this goal.
  • It presents the government’s vision of a shared, electric and connected mobility paradigm where mobility is a service based on an electric vehicle (EV) fleet, enabled by the convergence of
    1. Low-cost technologies,
    2. Smart designs,
    3. Business model innovation and supportive policies
  • The Central government is calling global tenders for the first 10,000 electric cars, of which a pilot phase of 500 cars has already been awarded to Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra & Mahindra
  • Among the states, the Karnataka government has taken the lead in formulating India’s first comprehensive EV policy
  • The policy will support a complete ecosystem from manufacturing to deployment of charging stations
Why EVs are not popular in India?
  • Due to range anxiety, high capital cost and long charging time, despite the obvious benefits of very low running costs and zero emission.
  • Achieving the target of all-electric vehicles by 2030 will need a substantial push from the government and the private sector in terms of setting up the charging infrastructure, enabling cheaper availability of raw materials and incentivising mid-way measures such as hybrid vehicles which is not happening yet.
Government’s plan for Public Transport
  • Coming to public transport, despite a sharp increase in private vehicle ownership over the last decade, India still relies heavily on public transport
  • The government plans to make public transport more economical and environment-friendly by promoting electric buses
  • However, the current generation of electric buses with traditional battery technology are prohibitively expensive at four to five times the cost of a diesel bus
How to counter challenges related to EVs?
  • One way is “Battery swapping”
  • To help bring down the capital cost of electric buses, experts are recommending two things among the various solutions being looked at
    1. reducing the battery size and
    2. adopting “swappable” battery technology,
  • It will help in bringing down the upfront capital cost while reducing the operational cost and charging time
  • The Indian auto industry is actively working in this direction as it helps state public transport agencies to induct electric bus fleets without incurring too much additional expenditure
Benefits of connected vehicles
  • The government’s agenda also focuses on developing an ecosystem to support the EV industry
  • It will enable various stakeholders to stay connected, enabling a high-functioning ,EV-driven public transport system
  • For example, an electric bus heading for the last stop can signal EV taxis in the area about how many passengers it will be offloading
  • This ensures optimum onward journey options for the disembarking passengers
  • Or EVs can communicate with refuelling stations about battery requirements, so there is never a danger of getting stranded
  • These connected vehicles are also a necessary step towards the inevitable progression to autonomous vehicles
What steps have been taken?
  • Different departments and ministries have stepped up their engagement with the electric vehicle industry. Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a government firm, has put in motion plans to procure 10,000 e-vehicles and has already given out tenders to the likes of Tata Motors and M&M. EESL aims to lease these vehicles out to government departments so as to replace their existing fleets of petrol and diesel vehicles.
  • The Government also notified the scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME), as a part of its National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. The scheme has four focus areas: technology development, pilot project, charging infrastructure and demand creation. The scheme has been extended till March 31, 2018.
What are the roadblocks?
  • The first is that very few global carmakers have brought their electric variants into India. The fact that the government has also made a distinction between EVs and hybrid vehicles under the GST regime is seen as a problem. While EVs are to be taxed at 12%, hybrid vehicles are taxed at 28% plus a 15% cess.
  • The view among carmakers is that people are still sceptical about the shift to all-electric vehicles since they fear the charge duration of the batteries. As such, they are more likely to try hybrid vehicles, but that sector is not being encouraged by the current tax structure. The other issue has to do with the charging stations themselves.
  • While sector specialists said that EVs can be charged at home using AC power, this would take about 5-8 hours for a full charge. DC chargers, on the other hand, can do the same in a fraction of the time. Most of the chargers being installed across the country, however, are AC chargers.
The Way Forward
  • The auto industry has been growing at a steady pace and India is now becoming an export hub for small and medium-sized cars
  • This leaves the auto industry well-placed to go all out on electric
  • This is an opportune time for the auto industry to embrace the government’s EV push and collaborate with technology and mobility solution providers to capitalize on this opportunity
  • It will hugely benefit the nation, economically and environmentally

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