Currently in India, only Mahindra & Mahindra are the
whole and sole manufacturers of Electric Vehicles. Although, Japanese motor
giants Toyota and Nissan do have advanced technologies in the field of electric
vehicles but these technologies are very expensive. Out of the 1 billion cars
running on roads in the world, only 2 million are electric out of which 2000
are in India. These means only 0.0001% of the total electric cars in the world
are in India. However, seem to have an advantage after the Indian government
passed the statement that the companies which follow the official policies and
switch to non-polluting vehicles will benefit in the long run.
In the last few years, India’s need for oil has skyrocketed
and it pays upto $150 billion annually for oil imports out of which a majority
is provided as fuel to passenger vehicles owned by the growing middle class.
Switching to electric vehicles (EVs) would save the country $60 billion in
energy by 2030, as per a report by NITI Aayog, Indias most influential think
tank. This would in turn decrease carbon emissions by upto 37% by 2030, which
is the need of the hour for a country like India with a severe urban pollution
problem. After signing the Paris climate agreement, India is obligated to bring
down carbon emissions by 2030. Many of India’s cities are among the world’s
most polluted cities and emissions from vehicles forms the primary reason as to
why Indian cities are vastly polluted. As per a report by the WHO in 2014, 13
Indian cities make it to the list of 20 most polluted cities around the globe.
Apart from this, India is desperate for alternatives for fossil fuels as it
imports more than 80% of its oil requirements, and is estimated to spend upto
$85 billion in the financial year 2018.
On a good note, India has made attempts to improve the
quality of air. In the first two weeks of January 2016, for instance, the New
Delhi government came up with the Odd-Even number car rule mandating drivers to drive their
vehicles depending on odd or even numbered day of the week and the last digit
of the car number plate. While such interventions can help, switching to
EVs would have a much greater impact. Reducing the oil import bill, curbing
pollution, meeting emission targets and betting on renewable energy are the
macro reasons why an EV play is critical for India. The government has pledged
that, by 2030, 40% of the country’s electricity needs would come from
non-fossil fuel. Just like two sides to a coin, there are doubters to the
electic car hype as well. Many from the automobike industry claim that nobody
wants to buy electric vehicles and some question India’s ability to generate
enough electricity to propel the electric car movement. Some even question
whether the electricity won’t cause pollution. Answering all these critics, if
the entire Indian vehicle fleet was converted to electric, then it would
consume only 20% of the power generated by India. India has no shortage of
electricity and the thermal plant load factor today in India is 59.6%. To curb
pollution, if renewables are used, then there would be zero emissions, and even
their prices have fallen. If electricity is produced from the current thermal
plants, there won’t be any tail-pipe emission from vehicles, bringing the
carbon dioxide pollution down by half.
The time has come for India to pick up momentum, start
building in volume, provide economies to bring down prices further down and start
with two wheelers in the beginning, followed by cars and then commercial
vehicles. After all, an electric vehicle gives better efficiency with a fewer
number of moving parts. An electric vehicle is 95% more efficient than an ICE
(internal combustion engine) automobile and has around 20 moving parts as
against the 2,000 which go into a traditional automobile. A shift to electric
vehicles could be a stepping stone to combat global warming and pollution.
Vehicles that use petrol and diesel emit hazardous and life-threatening
greenhouse gases that increase air pollution and temperature whereas electric
vehicles are cleaner depending upon the type of vehicle and the source of
electricity. For example, some battery electric vehicles which derive energy
from sources such as solar, wind, nuclear, or hydropower have zero CO2
emissions. Not only will it lower the air pollution but it will also improve
the quality of the air. Better air quality will lessen the probability of
illnesses, like asthma, heart diseases, and in extreme cases, cancer. Imagine
saving time, energy and money on medical bills and investing the same in
greener cars instead. Though electric cars are expensive than the existing
fuel-guzzlers, it is cost-effective in the long run. In a traditional car, one
spends on fuel, the maintenance charge of the car and costs of repair for
scratches and dents. On the contrary, electric cars don’t require much
maintenance and run on electricity which is a lot cheaper than fuel. Most
electric cars can be recharged to 80% in about 30 minutes and have a lower
range as compared to petrol or diesel cars. Therefore, there is a need for
rapid chargers and charging stations. Another way to save time is to introduce
the concept of battery swapping to extend the limited range of electric
vehicles. In this, an electric car can go to a battery switch station and swap
a depleted battery with a fully charged one, all in a matter of a few minutes.
In 1996, Scooter India Pvt Ltd released the
first electric vehicle: the Three Wheeler VIKRAM SAFA. Approximately 400
vehicles were made and sold. These vehicles ran on 72 volt lead acid battery.
In 1999, Mahindra and Mahindra
Ltd. Launched its first electric three wheeler and also launched a new company
in 2001 to make and sell electric vehicles named Bijlee.
In 2000, BHEL developed an
eighteen seater electric bus. Some 200 electric vans were built and run in
Delhi. The major concern with these vehicles was their poor consistency, low
life and very high cost of battery.
In 2001, Bajaj Auto ltd, Pune,
demonstrated their 3 seater electric rickshaw. However this product was not
In 2001, REVA, Bangalore, entered
the EV sector in the car industry with a vehicle developed by American company
(Amerigon). Some 3200 cars had been sold worldwide including approximately 1500
cars that had been sold in India, mostly in Bangalore city.
In 2007, in two wheeler
segment, Hero cycles collaborated with UK based ULTRA Motor to launch a series
of bikes. Other companies such as Electrotherm India, TVS Motor, Hero electric
etc. are also manufacturing and selling their products. TATA Motors, Maruti
Suzuki, Toyota and many other companies started entering Indian market with
battery and hybrid electric vehicle products.
Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles (FAME) India was
launched in 2015 and aims at promoting eco friendly vehicles in the country.
Currently administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry. The objective of the
scheme is to provide fiscal and monetary incentives for adoption and market creation
of both hybrid and electric technology vehicles in the country. It also aims at
incentivizing all vehicle segments, including two wheelers, three wheeler
autos, passenger four wheelers and light commercial vehicles and buses.
The scheme covers hybrid and electric technologies like a strong hybrid, plug
in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Its mandate is to support hybrid or
electric vehicles market development and its manufacturing eco-system. The Minister of Heavy Industries and
Public Enterprises Shri Anant Geete had announced that the Government is
providing Rs 437 crore subsidy to 11 cities under FAME India, for launching
electric buses, taxis and three-wheelers. The cities include Delhi, Ahmedabad,
Bangalore, Jaipur, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Indore and Kolkata, plus two
cities – Jammu and Guwahati under special category. The nine big cities in the
list will be given subsidy for 40 buses each while Jammu and Guwahati will get
for 15 buses each. Subsidy for taxis will be given to Ahmedabad (20 taxis),
Bangalore (100 taxis), Indore (50 taxis) and Kolkata (200 taxis) – based on
their demand. Bangalore will get subsidy for 500 three wheelers, Indore for 200
and Ahmedabad for 20. This comes to a total of 390 buses, 370 taxis and
720 three wheelers.