THE FUTURE IS ELECTRIC

about 1 year ago
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By Ruma Dubey

Finally reality check seems to have dawned – from the ambitious target of making all, 100% vehicles electric, yesterday, policy was thankfully revised. The target for electric vehicles (EV) on Indian roads is now 30% by 2030.

This is actually good news because with 100% target, we were doomed for failure anyway. But with a 30% target, at least we can meet part of it and that itself will be a beginning.

The Govt yesterday launched a National Electric Mobility Program organized by Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) India. The main aim, apart from showing to the world that India is serious about its 2030 EV’s target, the Program aims to provide impetus to the Indian e-mobility ecosystem, including EV manufacturers, charging infrastructure companies, fleet operators, and service providers.

Power Minister, RK Singh also drove home the seriousness of India on EVs by announcing that the ministry is working on a set of guidelines to be launched before end of March for power distribution companies (or discoms) and EV charging service providers. Car makers and discoms heaved a sigh of relief as it cleared confusion over transport minister, Nitin Gadkari saying that there was no need for any EV policy.

The biggest hurdle for EVs is setting up of the charging infrastructure. Even for Tesla, even in a developed country like USA, half the people refrain from buying the EV is because of lack of charging stations. For India, while we announce such ambitious plans for making the entire transport system electric, ample investment has to come into charging stations too. Currently, India has only 206 community charging stations across the country. 

The new guidelines to be launched are expected to be provide clarity on a lot of things, making the path clearer for discoms and EV charging providers.

The guidelines are expected to draw out a clear distinction between the sale of electricity and vehicle charging services where the latter will be recognized as service providers, thus getting over the need to get a power licence to sell electricity as stipulated by the Indian Electricity Act.

The big challenge is getting land to set up charging stations. The guidelines are expected to address this and many expect giving permits to existing petrol pumps to provide this service. Govt could also rope in NTPC and Power Grid to set up charging stations along identified routes and in large metro cities.

The Govt also recognises the need to incentivize the charging service providers. There might not be any direct subsidy; they have to bear the cost of buying the power and transmission, leaving enough margins to make profits.

The aim of the Govt is to have more charging stations than EVs in the initial stages. And to bring in volumes, the Govt itself plans to drive demand.

The Power Minister also announced that it will be floating a tender for 10,000 EVs today to replace existing fleet of petrol and diesel vehicles. The Govt plans to supply 10,000 cars to Andhra Pradesh and 8,000 to Gujarat for official use.

M&M is the oldest EV car maker in India and as per its data, as of 2016, only around 25,000 electric cars are sold in India annually. Thus demand has to be generated; the want created along with infra to support that demand.

The Govt is not ignorant about the affordability angle.  It has stated that by 2025, the price of EVs will be on par with an internal combustion car (petrol or diesel). India has set itself the ambition of the Indian car market to achieve zero tail pipe emission by 2040.

Maybe we are all at the cusp of a major shift in the Indian car industry. Change in the auto sector cannot happen overnight and what we are seeing today are the steps which would be taken over the next few years to go electric. Is this how the shift would have happened from bullock carts to cars?  

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