This year is a turning point for EVs. Here is the hot goss on all issues EV owners face in India.
We rounded up some real-world challenges that can help you better understand the problems associated with EVs.
The 10 Worst Experiences Of EV Owners
1. Risks and hazards
Since December 2021, there have been at least 20 cases of electric vehicle fires across the country, resulting in the death of at least four people and the injury of several others. The rash of incidents led the government to set up a special committee to identify the causes of the fires and provide recommendations to reduce the fire risks associated with EVs.
The preliminary reports of the inquiry into the incidents have revealed several issues linked to the battery. According to Reuters, the first reported cases of EV fires occurred due to problems with battery cells and modules, battery casing, and battery management systems.
Even the slightest damage to a battery can cause it to explode, even a minor overheat, or if outside temperatures are too high, but the real danger comes when the battery catches fire. Lithium-ion battery fires release large amounts of heat, smoke, and toxic gases that can cause health and environmental damage.
Regarding hybrid and fully electric cars, their voltages range from 200 to 800 volts. This capacity means you can get more than 100 kWh from an EV. Li-ion batteries should never be opened or touched by anyone other than a professional.
Li-ion batteries can deteriorate in the event of a car crash. If a short occurs or a bare connector is touched, there is a risk of damage to the battery. Remember, first responders are also vulnerable at the crash scene.
2. Regional Resources: Electricity and issues with temperature
Given the current situation, when too many suddenly switch to EVs, EV owners have a pain point of power outages and shortages due to grid issues. Although India is in the process of improving this issue, we are still far from our goal. Our Electric infrastructure is not yet ready to convert 100% of vehicles into EVs or even 50% as EVs.
Due to rainy weather and storms, power outages occur in many parts of the country. Only the big cities have consistent power. In other words, many villages cannot conveniently charge their EVs unless they plan and get solar roofs.
Additionally, temperature plays a role in the performance of the EV battery, which is why EVs are unsuitable for cold places like Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram or hot states like Rajasthan or Kerala. The battery provides optimal performance in the 15-40 degree Celsius range.
3. Consumer ignorance and inadequate education
Most consumers in India are ignorant about electric vehicles and find it challenging to maintain their new EVs. They have no idea about the benefits of EVs, charging needs, and overall performance. This lack of knowledge and education prevents people from using the vehicles optimally.
In some parts of the country, such as Chandigarh and Delhi, there has been a drive to ply only electric vehicles. The Delhi government has even set a target for all commercial aggregators to transition to EVs in 5 years.
But, for the most part, India is still moving toward educating the masses. Indians do not know how to manage, maintain, or even afford an expensive electric vehicle. Many electric vehicle owners are hurting due to the price point.
4. Expensive For Middle-Class Indians
Even today, any battery technology is nowhere near mass production, so the upfront costs are too high. Electric Vehicle is more expensive than petrol and diesel in India, and the average EV owner feels they will not cover enough km to cover the cost.
The cost of an electric vehicle is the most essential factor for a consumer. Central and state governments offer many incentives. However, the reality is that these incentives are only available for a limited number of vehicles. After removing discounts and incentives, the same EV that looked lucrative to purchase suddenly becomes expensive. This factor makes many potential EV owners feel that buying and maintaining an EV is no longer cheap.
5. Lack of charging infrastructure
EV charging infrastructure is essential for widespread EV adoption. In India, EV charging infrastructure is not yet up to par, especially in the non-metro urban and rural segments. The absence of a well-established and accessible EV charging network makes EV owners apprehensive about the availability of EV charging points and the recharging time.
Tata Power, along with other discoms and new-age innovators in technology, has begun to build charging infrastructure. However, due to high capex requirements for setting up charging infrastructure, the pace of deployment is lagging and thus creating a hurdle for new consumers to switch to EVs.
Some companies are providing battery-swapping stations. But these programs are still in their early stages.
Poor infrastructure does not only mean that there are no charging stations nearby but also that there is no proper charging setup at home. For EV owners, charging an electric vehicle can be a huge hassle if they cannot access adequate power without breakdown or live in high-rise buildings, where there are some challenges to having a good setup like wire and earthing at home.
6. Unpredictable resale value
Many EV owners have experienced trouble with resale value. After all, it may depend on the physical condition of the EV, the number of kilometers driven, the popularity of the model, the number of owners, etc.
Nobody would buy an electric scooter used for five years, whereas there is a good resale value for an ice vehicle that is ten years.
Electric scooter consumers are aware of the condition of the battery. After five years, it is almost dead. Furthermore, replacing an average scooter battery costs between Rs. 60,000 to Rs.1,20,00.
7. Range Anxiety and Charging time
The range can be a mental pressure due to charging infrastructure. No EV owner wants to be stuck in traffic or in the middle of nowhere with no juice in your EV.
Several companies offer unrealistic ranges for their electric vehicles in ideal conditions, such as 200kms, 180kms, 150kms, etc. But in reality, 150kms is a dream. If you are an average Indian man with some luggage, and riding in the city regularly, then you would get a 100 km driving range at best.
In electric cars, loading capacity has little impact. But for small vehicles such as electric scooters, electric bikes, etc., even a slight difference in the driving conditions can influence your EV range.
Charging time is closely linked to the question of driving range. A slow charger will take up to 8 hours to charge an EV from the empty state with a 7 kW charging station.
Charging time depends mainly on the battery size. The larger the battery size, the longer it takes to charge from an empty state to a 100% state.
Compared to refueling and ICE at a petrol station, the hassle of charging time is one of the main barriers to EV adoption.
Another pain point for EV owners is inadequate standardization or integration across various charging networks. The government should focus on setting standardization protocols to ensure updated interoperability and pushing for fast-charging technologies like LEV DC for 2-wheeler charging.
Unfortunately, not all car manufacturers have agreed to this standard. The government has taken steps to standardize the battery swapping stations, and India is making the best efforts, but these gaps cannot help get EV adoption up to where it needs to be to meet the 2030 target.
9. Insufficient options for service
Most of us have experienced a vehicle breakdown at some point in our lives, and thanks to the large number of skilled and non-skilled auto service technicians available, the issue is usually resolved.
However, with the advent of electric vehicles, this system has become redundant as there is the need to retrain repair professionals or find newly trained workers. While an EV has fewer moving parts when compared with an ICE vehicle, the technology is something that our informal service network doesn’t know about. This factor only adds to the anxiety of the EV owners/drivers, who constantly worry about getting stranded with no access to help. While most of the Auto OEMs have large service and dealer networks all over India, the EV Service network has yet to reach a significant level.
10. Instability in Policies
One of the main issues of EV adoption is the lack of a clear and consistent policy framework. The Indian government has made several attempts to promote EVs, but the absence of a stable and long-term policy framework has caused uncertainty among stakeholders. The recent reduction of Fame 2 subsidies has made EV prospects and owners fearful and may have a negative effect on EV growth.
The confusion over the FAME-II subsidy scheme made all stakeholders worried. While the OEMs struggle to stay afloat, EV owners feel pressured that the recovery funds will ultimately come out of their pocket.
The Verdict: EV Industry Is Ready To Evolve
There are always issues faced in the way of any new system. The electric vehicle industry is still in the early stages of development, but it is growing fast. The infrastructure requirements to meet the demand for EVs are catching up.
Even though the challenges are still present for EV owners, electric vehicles offer tremendous opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint and a cost-efficient mode of transportation. The only way to contribute to this growth is by purchasing an EV.