about 7 months ago
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One step ahead and then two steps back – that’s unfortunately how some of our Govt machinery works.

World over, Govt’s are going all out to promote Electric Vehicles (EVs), giving them sops and subsides and all kinds of tax breaks. In our country too, thankfully the central Govt also considers it to be a big deal but then Delhi Govt goes and ploughs back all the good work done.

On Monday, the Delhi Govt suspended the subsidy given on Tata’s Nexon EV, currently India’s largest selling EV. And this suspension is three days after it had won the prestigious first evergreen car of the year award at the Indian Car of the Year Award.

Why was it suspended? The Delhi Govt received ‘many’ complaints from customers, saying that the car was not giving the range that it should, calling it “unsatisfactory.”

Range in EV cars refers to the mileage – it indicates how much the car will run on one battery charge. The Nexon EV, with its 30.2 kwh battery pack, as per the certification from ARAI, gives a range of 312 kms. But the unhappy and dissatisfied customers have complained that the range is not more than 200 kms.

Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is the official body that independently tests all mass-produced vehicles under standard/defined test conditions before they can be offered to customers. Does this mean that the ARAI was lying, gave a falsified certification?

Now look at this the other way – you buy a regular car, say a Maruti Brezza. As per the ARAI, be it the diesel or petrol version, it gives a mileage of 24.3 kmpl. How many Brezza owners really get that mileage? So, does that mean that all those who do not get it can complaint and the Delhi Govt will issue Maruti also with a show cause notice?

Any car that we drive, the mileage one gets varies from person-to-person. It depends on various factors like AC usage, individual driving style, road conditions, traffic and so many other factors. This is ditto for the EVs. And as Tata Motors rightly said, the range achievement in EVs is also a function of familiarity with the new technology, and customers report improvements upwards of 10% within 4-6 weeks of familiarity.

In fact there are many reports of Tata Nexon EV owners achieving a driving range nearly the same as ARAI and some even surpassing the claimed range in various driving conditions.

Well, we were just flummoxed for some time – on the basis of complaints the subsidy was suspended? Is it as easy as that? What about people who are happy with the car? Its truly bizarre that the Govt suspends subsidy on the basis of complaints? Such matters need to be thoroughly investigated, found out whether or not there is truth in the complaints and also whether all customers of the Nexon EV were unhappy? How come the Delhi Govt did not bother backchecking with the company or why couldn’t it get someone to talk to customers who were happy or satisfied?

This is a very unhealthy practice as what the Delhi Govt has shown is that to hurt a good product, all that the competition needs to do is file in complaints – many of them or even one complaint and one tweet is enough!  

EV is a new concept and Indians are slowly adapting. Time is required for people to understand the mechanics of the EV and through experience and instinct, drivers will learn to adapt their driving style to EVs.

Suspension is an extremely bad move, forming a negative perception, especially at this stage when people are exploring the option of EV.

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