The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 was released by the Ministry of Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises, Government of India with a view to enhance national energy security, mitigate adverse environmental impacts (including CO2) from road transport vehicles and boost domestic manufacturing capabilities for electric vehicles (GoI, 2012).
Urban transport planning in India has to address numerous challenges such as deteriorating air quality, rising greenhouse gas emissions and adverse rising energy security risks. There is increasing consensus among planners that a range of additional measures will be required, beyond the existing policies, to mitigate the adverse impacts of transport on these sustainability indicators. Electric vehicles (EVs) offer alternate mobility options that can help to redress these issues.
EVs so far have remained on the fringe. However, technology and battery advancements are making EVs more attractive to the consumer due to increasing convenience and affordability.
Global Transport Transition
The transport sector, which is amongst the largest energy consuming sectors, is globally overly dependent on liquid fossil fuels. 93% of all the fuel used in transport sector was oil based in 2010. The sector is also a major source of GHG emissions and accounts for 22% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions (IEA, 2011).
Transport sector energy demand and CO2 emissions would increase at a rapid rate in the business as usual scenario (Clarke et. al., 2014). Therefore, emission mitigation and reducing energy consumption have been at the centre of various national and global energy and environmental policy debates in recent years.
Electric cars are a promising solution to reduce future emissions and decarbonise transport sector. However, the big question is 'Would India be EV ready by 2030'?
The Government has the mission to replace all the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) with Electric Vehicles by 2030. At present, EVs have less than 1% market share and 95% of this market consists of Electric Scooters.
Statistically, there are 2000 EVs but 30,46,727 Petrol/Diesel Cars on Indian roads. We have only one manufacturer producing electric vehicle i.e. Mahindra. The cost of its electric car comes around Rs 6 lakhs to Rs 11 lakhs with a mileage of around 140 kms on a full charge.
If we talk about the Charging stations – We currently have around 500 Charging station. But, Delhi alone will need around 3 lakh charging stations to make the EVs a true success.
If we do a fact check with other countries then while India has set a timeline of 2030 for no new ICE, Scotland has set the target of 2032, France 2040 and same for England. Comparing globally, India has set up an ambitious target for itself.
Will it be able to achieve it?
According to Mr Amitabh Kant, the CEO of Niti Aayog that "despite all these challenges, India has an advantage, per capita usage of cars in India is 20 per 1000 people while the same number for America is 800 per 1000 person, thus we will need to tweak our infrastructure at a very small scale in comparison to what the U.S. has to do."
Moreover, in India, 80% of the transportation happens within 5 km radius. Therefore, the first impetus of government would be to bring change in the Public transport. According to him, in 2026, prices of EVs will be equivalent to diesel/Petrol prices.
Challenges in achieving the target
We still need a clear Roadmap for EV in terms of whether we are moving ahead with the Battery Swapping or Charging stations. Also, Mahindra has a long-pending request for subsidy for its electric vehicle but the Government is not in any mood for a subsidy and wants automobile manufacturer to figure it out themselves.
We need to realize that China has become the 2nd biggest EV's manufacturer in 2 years because of its clear roadmap and the subsidy provided to the manufacturers of electric vehicles.
Currently, the Hybrids are taxed at 28%, EV at 12% and batteries are taxed at 28%. Therefore, if a manufacturer moves towards a battery swapping model, then they have to pay 12% tax on car and separate 28% tax on the batteries. With battery being a major component of EVs – it will increase the cost drastically for the consumer.
Irrespective of whatever happens, we should learn from our CNG experience and should not create a situation, where all the cars are standing in line at the limited CNG stations all night.
Moreover, Government needs to come up with a clearer roadmap and should think of every segment as a different trajectory i.e. in EVs' adoption – 2-wheeler will have its own pace, while 3-wheeler will have its own and similarly the passenger vehicles.
In the End, we should make sure that the power required by these EVs is not produced by coal else we will end up creating the same amount of pollution or more without ever solving the problem which we wanted to solve in the first place.
Sources: CNBC , National Electric Mobility Mission Plan , IIM Ahmedabad Report on Electric Vehicles