Electric vehicles, unlike conventional petrol and diesel vehicles, use electric motors for propulsion. They are powered by rechargeable batteries where the vehicle is plugged in and uses electricity. While different parts of the world have embraced the concept of electric vehicle technology, India has only very recently begun to appreciate the impact EVs can make.
Electric vehicles are becoming a popular choice of transport for their simple design and convenient maintenance. Not only are they 100% eco-friendly, but they also do great things for the environment by not emitting toxic gases that cause pollution and hasten global warming. What’s more, electrical vehicles use electricity which is produced by renewable sources of energy- this is one of the main reasons why they cost lesser to maintain, along with that they have fewer moving parts that are subject to wear and tear.
Is India Ready For Electric Vehicles?
The answer to this question lies in an understanding of how India is getting ready to accommodate electric vehicles and what are the possible challenges they face in making the transition from petrol or diesel vehicles to EVs.
EVs are not only environmentally friendly, but they are also cost-effective as the Indian government is incentivizing the use of electric vehicles by providing subsidies and lower motor taxes on the use of EVs. Electric vehicle news in India brings to us government policies that are aimed to achieve just that.
FAME or Faster Adoption and Manufacture of Electric Vehicles launched in March 2015, was one such scheme that garnered the interest of start-ups and individuals who are looking to own electric vehicles.
Policies under FAME are adopted by many state governments where tax reductions, financial solutions, and attractive incentives have not only made buying electric vehicles easy, even attractive.
The Role of Start-Ups and Investments
With a focus on 2 and 3-wheelers, start-ups and investors are doing their bit when it comes to designing and testing products suitable for the Indian market.
With the government backing up the idea of a cleaner transport policy, electric vehicles (especially 2-wheelers) are becoming a more common sight on Indian roads. Technological advancements, investments in improving EV-friendly infrastructure, and increasing consumer awareness have further been a game-changer in the use of electric vehicles in India.
All these strategies and developments have led to an increase in the use of electric cars, scooters, and bikes in public transport in India. Whether it is transport services like Ola or bike rentals like those provided by Bounce, even in retail delivery systems like Flipkart EVs are favored greatly marking them down as efficient and versatile.
Prominent manufacturers of petrol and diesel vehicles are now working on developing models in electric vehicles, some of which are EV counterparts to popular petrol vehicles. This comes after the rather encouraging reception of electric vehicles in the Indian market.
Manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki India, Mahindra and Mahindra, Hero Electric Vehicles, are already registered as electric vehicle manufacturers in India. Parallelly, collaborations with companies like Toyota and Suzuki and Ford are working to develop electric mobility solutions that are affordable to Indians customers.
India and Air Pollution
Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India. Dealing with air pollution is the need of the hour as every year we see this pollution manifesting itself in many ways; be it unusual heat waves, irregular monsoons or warm winters.
Vehicular pollution is one of the main contributors to air pollution in India and the numbers are rather appalling. India is included among countries that have the highest particulate matter (PM) levels. Indian cities’ PM figures are 6 times more than the WHO “safe” limit. These figures cry out the need for electric vehicles as combat strategies to reduce air pollution.
As a signatory to the Paris climate agreement, India is obligated to do its share by bringing down emissions by 2030. Acknowledging this crisis, the government has launched initiatives like the National E-Mobility Program, the Niti Aayog that plans guidelines to encourage the use of EVs in India.
Challenges for EVs in India
The enthusiasm towards electric vehicles in India seems to wane after a point. Despite the immense opportunity for the growth of EVs, Indians are hesitant to make the transition from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles to electric. These are certain arguments and dilemmas around EVs that are holding people back;
- The first concern is the lack of charging infrastructure:
This has led to a chicken or egg, “which came first?” situation where research shows that people are not going for the electric switch because of a lack of charging points. On the other hand, to supply one first needs to have a demand. It would need a leap of faith from car manufacturers to make infrastructure available, setting aside their doubts about the profitability of the entire enterprise
- The concept of home charging:
Typically, charging an EV overnight at home is most convenient. The metering is connected directly with home metering and there is no separate billing for it. While this works for independent houses, apartments and flats are a little trickier. In the future, there could be a need for separate billing and guidelines for builders to include EV charging stations in flats and apartments.
- Reliance on battery imports and import of components and parts
Since India has not yet progressed to develop electric vehicles exclusively, there is a larger dependency on other countries for parts and components. This dependency may suggest that parts are available in limited quantities and may not always be easily accessible
- Lack of quality maintenance and repair options
The lack of service centers to assist with repairs and maintenance of EVs discourage Indian customers to opt for this kind of vehicle. This also adds to the range anxiety that people face, fearing their electric vehicle does not function to the capacity of a petrol or diesel vehicle.
- May cause disruption to the automobile sector
With more people opting for EVs, the automobile sector could be under threat since they are currently thriving by the sale of fuel-powered vehicles. With a need to strike a balance, electric vehicles need to be used to fill the gaps in terms of need, rather than seeing it as an “either-or” choice.
Development always comes with its challenges and is best if understood practically. Despite its challenges, electric vehicles in India have come to stay simply because they offer solutions for some of the world’s leading problems. With a large scope for growth, this industry will eventually find a way to bridge the gaps we see today.