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Future Of Electric Vehicles In India

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India is a flourishing economy and is evolving at a swift pace. With gas prices rising rapidly, we are in a flux to convert our daily movers into hybrid or electric models. According to a WHO report, 14 out of 20 most polluted cities are in India and the pollution is recorded as ‘severe’ in air quality indices. With all this happening, we much need drastic changes urgently.

e-Rickshaw Revolution

In a country permeated with rickshaws, one revolution may just have gone unnoticed. Over 1.5 million electric-powered rickshaws are now rolling across the country. They are silent, low cost and easy to maintain, making them a more stable option than gas or pedal alternatives. They enable more rides and more profit as compared to other rickshaws.

The primary reason for this revolution is the falling cost of lithium-ion batteries. This plummeting cost has enabled the electrification of 2 or 3 wheeled vehicles, on a priority basis.

The Ministry of Finance in India is planning to invest $600 million to establish the backbone of electric vehicle infrastructure in the country over the next five years. It will enable public plug-in charging and electric bus subsidies across the country.

At present, India has a total of less than 500 public charging stations, which is far too few for a country of over 1.3 billion people and in the need of electric vehicles. According to a report, the number of public charging stations will reach just 2,800 by 2022. this is not a huge increase with respect to our needs, but we all can consider it a start.

The centre is considering mandating that residential and commercial parking lots have vehicle charging stations installed in order to make charging convenient for electric vehicle owners.

At the moment, two and three-wheelers are the primary focus area by the government as these vehicles don’t require high power and you can easily plug into your wall outlet.

Solar Powered Cars

Hyundai, and sister concern, Kia are planning to launch a new solar roof for cars. “The first-generation system is for hybrid vehicles, while the second-generation technology brings a semi-transparent solar roof system to an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The third generation of this technology will see the introduction of a lightweight solar roof for battery electric vehicles.”

Now, the vehicles will not just passively consume energy but will also produce it effectively. It will help shift them from energy users to energy producers.

It is also a fact that the solar roof will not be powerful enough as the roof is not big and often not effectively placed in the direction of the sun to power the car.

Hyundai is also planning to launch an EV (Electronic Vehicle) named Kona Electric. Its high battery and fuel economy is expected to keep it on top of the game in 2019.

India Proposes 15% Electric Vehicles on Road in 5 Years

We are already seeking to cut the usage of the fossil fuels aggressively.”If at least 15 per cent comes in the next five years, it will be useful for the country. This is a time for the country to think seriously about pollution.”, says Nitin Gadkari, Union Transport Minister.

We haven’t had a proper policy towards electrification of vehicles, unlike China, which incentivises the purchase of electric vehicles. India sold almost 2,000 EVs last year. In contrast, China is targetting the sale of 7 million EVs by 2025, which may account to 15% of the global market by then, also offering up to $7,000 in incentives, making vehicles more affordable to end consumers.

Hyundai and Suzuki have already scheduled the launches of their electronic vehicles by next year in India. Ford has also signed a pact with Mahindra and Mahindra to jointly develop an EV that will be affordable. Ford and Volkswagen have also joined hands to create electric and autonomous cars that will compete in this space. Honda is also joining in by investing $1.2 billion to set up an EV factory in Gujrat.

OLA Mobility Institute, founded in August 2018, combines mobility and public good to launch ‘Mission Electric’, that facilitates over one million electric vehicles on the road, in the next three years.[2]

What are the major roadblocks?

An uncertain policy environment and lack of supporting infrastructure are considered to be the primary reason for the lack in the adoption of electric vehicles in India. Capital expenses are high and payoffs are uncertain in this business. This is not a risk-free zone. However, a clear policy could somewhat help with attracting investors. The unrealistic quasi-policy statement that 30% of all vehicles will be EV by 2030 is an example, but this target has been toned down to 15% in the next 5 years, although going by the present scenario, this is not realistic either.

FAME (policy on Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electronic vehicles) has been extended repeatedly. FAME II was supposed to be launched earlier this month but it has now been put on hold. PM, Narendra Modi, is planning to subsidise the batteries rather than subsidizing vehicles. This thought has some merit as batteries contribute to 50% of vehicle costs. The government has also slashed GST on batteries from 28% to 18%, which will make batteries more affordable.

The current fleet of EVs is incapable of transversing even in the same cities, due to a lack of charging infrastructure. This has been a major setback to localisation. India doesn’t have huge reserves of lithium or cobalt, they are imported from China and Japan. India is also struggling to get its hands on the mines in Latin America and Australia, but they won’t be enough. So, we are in a catch-22 situation where the quality is low and so is the demand.

India needs a complete range of subsidies and incentives to further shift to electronic vehicles. It needs to be done properly and effectively to lead India to clean electrification.

57% of Indians are already ready to make the shift of their older fuel-based vehicles to newer electronic vehicles due to an increase in pollution, according to a report by Mint. This is the future of mobility. The added benefit of low-cost travel will be a boon for the people. The future of the transport industry will be brighter with just a little support from the government.

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