What exactly are EV’s? While the concept of Electric Vehicles has yet to gain the sort of popularity that it has in countries like The United States or The United Kingdom, it is still regarded as one of the most ambitious projects under the Government of India, with the government planning to turn India into a 100% electric vehicle nation by the year 2030. The Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari stated that India will become the number one electric vehicle maker in the world in due course of time.
The term EV refers to a vehicle that utilises one or multiple electric or traction motors for propulsion. The concept of an EV encompasses everything from road and rail vehicles to electric aircraft and underwater vessels.
However, the term EV is most commonly used to refer to an electric car.
Why do we need EV’s?
One might question the need to shift to EV’s, most people feel that it is cumbersome to own an electric car, with the constant charging, the dearth of chargers in India to begin with and the overall practicality with their limited range.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Astronomically WRONG.
One of the most pivotal factors to cause air pollution is, you guessed it right, Vehicle Exhaust Fumes which release carbon monoxide which happens to be one of the largest air pollutants. According to WHO, 13 Indian cities are part of the 20 most air-polluted cities in the world. A study conducted in 2019 claimed that diesel vehicles were responsible for 66% of all air-pollution related deaths in India. A UN report claims that air pollution kills 6 lakh children every year. The list of statistics linking air pollution to vehicles that run on fossil fuel is never-ending but what is important to realise is that vehicles running on fossil fuel pose a grave danger to the lives of the citizens of India and we must act on this.
Additionally, another important consideration is the fact that fossil fuels are limited. There is not an unlimited supply, in fact, they are expected to run out much much before most people can fathom. According to estimates Oil will run out by the year 2052 or roughly in 30 years, Gas will run out by 2060 (i.e. in 40 years) and Coal will run out by 2090 or in 70 years.
These estimates provide the much-needed reality shock most people need to realise the importance of shifting to cleaner, renewable and less wasteful forms of energy.
The Government’s Plan:
The Indian Government plans to target both customers and manufacturers in its efforts to accelerate EV deployment in India and achieve its seemingly ambitious goal of turning India into a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030.
The Government aims to aggressively push for electrification of public transport by offering subsidies of $1.4billion primarily for buses,two-wheelers and three-wheelers. The government plans to bolster the adoption of EV’s in India by developing a robust charging infrastructure by investing $140 million.
The Government issued guidelines for EV charging infrastructure on the 14th of December 2018 which highlights the specifications of the infrastructure for charging and mandates a charging station be present every 25km along a road/highway.
To sensitise Indians to adopt EV’s over other fossil-fuel run vehicles, the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is procuring 10,000 EV’s from reputed manufacturers like Tata’s Nexon EV, Hyundai’s Kona EV and Mahindra’s E-Verito for distribution to Government Departments on rental model and upfront sale model. This decision has reduced the cost of EV's substantially.
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, 2020
The Government launched The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan,2020 in 2012 to prolong fuel reserves in India by the promotion of EV’s.
The Auto Industry contributes to 22% of the manufacturing GDP, with the help of a revised manufacturing policy, this number will increase to 25% by the year 2022.
Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME)
The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles or FAME scheme, in short, was launched by the government to provide benefits and subsidies to prospective electric vehicle buyers. The scheme was launched in 2 phases with the first phase from 2015-19 and the second from 2019-22.
The scheme offers incentives ranging from Rs 1800 to Rs 29000 for scooters and motorcycles and up to Rs 1.5 lakhs for cars. FAME comes under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
Go Electric campaign
The Go Electric campaign was launched by the government in 2021 to encourage people to adopt EV’s to ensure energy security and sustenance in the country. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari launched the campaign highlighting the decreasing economic viability of importing fossil fuels. He highlighted the grave danger that Carbon dioxide and Carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles pose and encouraged the use of alternative renewable fuels like electric batteries and biofuels.
Several State Governments have also taken initiatives to adopt clean and renewable energy in the quest to ensure fuel security in the country. The governments of Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand have been at the forefront of these initiatives.
In the current Indian EV landscape, there are several foreign and Indian players. Tata and Mahindra seem to be at the forefront of most of the EV related activity in the consumer space. However several other companies like MG, Hyundai, Mercedes and BMW also offer Electric Vehicles to Indian Buyers. Perhaps the most popular EV manufacturer in the world, Tesla is also expected to launch its cars in India in early 2022. Tata Motors has been at the forefront of establishing EV charging stations in India and Tesla is also in talks with the government and Tata Motors to follow suit.
Scepticism and the road ahead
EV’s are relatively new as far as the Indian landscape is concerned, and making Indian consumers accept EV’s is a gargantuan challenge. TERI chief Ajay Mathur expressed his concerns in 2019 in regards to the 2030 all-electric plan of the Government. He said that this sector is heavily dependent on consumer acceptability and desirability and these 2 major roadblocks must be addressed before transitioning to EV’s. He also raised the issue of the popularity of e-vehicles in India. Unlike internationally, people here are not familiar with the idea. "Internationally, there are e-cars which can travel 200 km but here people have not seen a comfortable e-vehicle," the TERI director-general said.
He insisted that the shift towards e-vehicles should be initiated through the introduction of electric buses and taxis."There are commercial vehicles like buses and taxis which I think should be the first target for e-vehicles as they are the largest creators of pollution and producers of CO2.
To sum up, EV’s are the way forward, with most fossil fuels estimated to last not more than 3-4 decades it is imperative to shift to EV’s. The feeling is mutual as major automobile manufacturers like Volvo, Audi, Jaguar, Bentley and General Motors all committing to going fully electric in the next 15-20 years.
However, having said that, India is still a particularly challenging market for EV’s as Indians are still not very comfortable with the idea of Electric Vehicles and the challenges that they pose especially in regards to charging, servicing and range.
The Government has done a stellar job in providing massive subsidies and benefits to consumers however they must also sensitise consumers to the concept of EV’s by first introducing them in the public transportation sector. This would make consumers more open to the idea of EV’s when they get to see the tangible difference in air pollution and carbon emission levels in the atmosphere.
The road ahead poses numerous challenges and tribulations but the strong framework laid by the Government promises a cleaner, renewable and environmentally friendly future.
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Submitted by Devansh Joshi