Government of India is striving hard to completely phase out the petrol and diesel vehicles and transform the country into all-electric market by the year 2030.
These ambitious targets are backed up by action plans as opposed to concrete policies. The industry is awaiting a comprehensive policy announcement on electric vehicles (EV) regarding availability of charging infrastructure, investment and guidelines for incentives and the role of state governments to support the launch of EVs.
The shift to EV would help us to cut down on fuel bills, reduce emissions and reduce the escalating demand for road infrastructure and can help us project India as the face of leading electric vehicle market in the region.
Challenges and Opportunities
- The automotive consumer market in India with more than 30 percent of first-time car buyers in India are under the age of 30. The rising income levels and ease of access to credit and higher aspiration of younger generation gives ample opportunities for EV industry to expand in the near future.
- Many big companies are already gearing up for the EVs with Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai leading the charge to introduce their first EVs in India by 2020 and 2019 respectively. Tata Motors has delivered the first 250 Tigor Vehicles to EESL in Phase 1, the same goes for Mahindra and Mahindra.
- However, the risks fall on the industry in terms of market readiness of the electric vehicles. In this segment, a policy push by the government may help the industry to survive and expand.
Infrastructure is Crucial
- For any industry to thrive, a strong and coherent strategy to focus on setting up of infrastructure becomes crucial.
- With the expansion of EV fleet and charging networks around the world, different charging standards have emerged in different regions where every car has a different charging system. In other words, all models of all manufacturers need different charging station. Therefore, the Committee on Standardisation of Protocol for Electric Vehicles (EV) has released recommendations to entail specifications for standardising charging infrastructure and requirements through Bharat EV Charger AC-001 and Bharat EV Charger DC-001.
- Currently, we have a few charging stations in India which makes long distance travel extremely difficult. Government incentives in the form of incentivising electricity tariffs and promoting awareness will go a long way in developing the infrastructure. The recent initiative to set up EV charging stations at parking lots of railway stations is a welcome move in this aspect.
- Similarly, platforms to develop battery cell technologies, innovative software and telematics to provide a detailed map of charging stations in a city and strategic placement of charging points at restaurants, malls and coffee shops will ease the potential hiccups faced by prospective EV buyers.
- India’s largest power generation public-sector utility company NTPC is seeking license to set up charging stations. Similarly, establishment of recycling programmes for replacement of lithium-ion batteries will help to ease the burden of EV buyers.
Future for EV
EV faces stiff competition from shared-mobility services such as Uber and Ola and given the deteriorating traffic conditions, the competition will intensify as the younger generation migrates to the cities leaving behind vehicle ownership at home cities to face unaffordable parking spaces in big cities.
- Short-term incentives in the form of cash subsidies, lowering road taxes and cutting GST on EVs can help project a stronger long-term committed consumer.
- China has introduced a preferential vehicle licensing system whereby EV buyers get their license plates free and with the least delay. India can adopt this strategy too with the help of State Governments.
- Chinese investments in EV charging stations have generated a boom for the industry with sales growth reaching as high as 53 percent in 2016. As suggested above, India needs to focus on the infrastructure for achieving this target.
India’s automotive industry is heading for an inflection point where it would need smart mobility plans to stay relevant and ensure that India calibrates on the right track to become an EV hub.
Source – The Hindu Business Line
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