2030: India’s Electric Vehicle Deadline? Optimistic or Realistic?
The Government of India in 2017 decided to shift its focus from conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle to electric vehicle (EV). This move was initially aimed to have 100% EVs on road by 2030 but was later amended to a target of 30% electric private transport vehicles. This objective is however subject to many areas of improvement particularly in EV infrastructure. To achieve this goal and incentivise consumers, the government is also providing an income tax rebate on interest paid on loans of up to Rs 1,50,000. Several private players are also taking concerted efforts to meet this vision. For instance, India based private taxi company Ola in Feb 2017, had flagged off its own electric car unit Ola electric. Bajaj Motors has initiated road tests of its 3-wheeler electric vehicles and has launched Chetak as an independent 2-wheeler electric scooter brand in India with a capacity of 90KM run on a single charge. Besides these automotive giants, many small players have also emerged to support the government in this initiative.
Small players are also catching up with this objective through various product launches. Some of them being:
Hero Motocorp, Tork Motor and Emflux motors are the indigenous electric superbike start-ups of India. Alongside these passenger vehicle start-ups, there are some commercial EV start-ups as well such as eBikeGo and Achiredo Technologies that are developing e- scooters for commercial purposes such as food delivery and e-commerce delivery. However, the vision 2030 is subject to setting up of a robust electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the country. For a country where power availability is an acute challenge, meeting this vision of 30% EV objective would need subsequent remodelling of infrastructure to scale up electric vehicle production in the country and attract foreign manufacturers to set up base in the country. Currently the infrastructure lags from a manufacturing and engineering perspective. India lags in terms of engineering capabilities in the EV sector and there are plans in pipeline to focus on R&D but it will take substantial time to ramp up local R&D capabilities. Also, EVs require Li- ion battery which is not domestically manufactured in large volume. The subsequent import of Li-ion batteries will increase the cost affecting the consumer propensity to spend. India does not have its own Battery Management System (BMS) which is required in EVs for proper functioning of batteries. A major infrastructure challenge that India faces is the non-availability of electric charging stations across commercial and residential properties. Overall, the success of this campaign would depend entirely on the state of EV infrastructure in the country. On assessing the current scenario, it seems we may not be able to achieve this objective unless there is a collaborative approach taken by the public and private bodies to bridge the gap in terms of infrastructure.