India is pushing for electric vehicles, signaling a turning point in its clean energy policy, writing energy writer Vandana Gombar.
In 2017, Transport Minister Nitina Sadkari shocked the automobile industry (and the world) when he reported that he intended to pass 100% electric cars until 2030.
"I will do it if you want it or not. And I will not ask you. I'll do it," he said at an industry meeting.
It was an ambitious goal because even the UK and France are hoping to phase out conventional combustion engine only by 2040.
Mr Gadkari and his Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP-led government eventually diluted their plans for electric passenger cars – From 100% this target is now down to 30%.
Industry-driven pushback and fear of job losses were among the reasons for the government's efforts to do so.
The government has now decided to focus on the segment underneath cars: two-wheelers, with much higher sales, and three-wheelers (largely auto-rickshaws).
In the financial year ending March, about 3.4 million passenger cars were sold in the country against 21.2 million two-wheelers, according to data released by Indian automobile manufacturers. The number of rotary wheelers sold is 0.7 million.
The new proposal only features electric rotary wheelers operating in the country in 2023, and only two two-wheelers in 2025.
The government seems to have two dominant objectives – to control pollution and take the lead in an emerging industry.
India wants to become a "global hub of manufacturing electric vehicles", Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her speech earlier this month. The economic survey, a government forecast, released a day before the budget envisaged an Indian city possibly emerging as the "Detroit of electric vehicles" in the future.
However, it will be a challenge to create a competitive advantage in electric vehicle manufacturing, or even a market for them, because India does not have the infrastructure or deep pockets that make China's current leader in electric mobility.
China is the world's largest electric vehicle market. It has the world's largest network of charging stations for such vehicles and is also the world & # 39; Its the largest manufacturer of batteries. According to recent figures, sales of new energy vehicles (News) – including electric and hybrid models – increased significantly in 2018 in China.
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The American electric carmaker, Tesla, is a manufacturing factory in Shanghai that is expected to be operational at the end of 2019.
India can perhaps learn a few lessons from China. The authorities have spared sales by placing caps on the number of conventional combustion vehicles that can be sold in its most congested and polluted cities. Beijing also has a limited number of electric vehicles that can be sold. Further, car manufacturers now have to ensure that specific parts of their production are so-called zero emission vehicles.
Another inspiration for India could be Norway, where electric vehicles accounted for half of last year's total car sales. A phase-out of combustion vehicles in the country is planned by 2025.
However, there are many encouraging signs in India too.
For one, charging stations were built in government offices, malls and even in neighborhoods. Government-owned power companies such as Bharat Heavy Electrical and Energy Efficiency Services plan to start rolling out charging stations soon. The latter looks at 10,000 stations in the next two years.
Second, electric vehicle models are proliferating. Hyundai launched its electric car in India in July and Nissan is expected to launch its lifeblood model soon. Indian car makers Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata Motors both sell electric cars.
There are already some models of electric two-wheelers, and bike-sharing companies like bounce are also electric. Electric buses can be spotted in many cities, partly fueled by incentives. India's capital, Delhi, is expected to run nearly 1,000 electric buses on its roads shortly.
Even taxi-hailing apps and home delivery services have taken ferry parcels and passengers on electric bikes. After a pilot run with electric cubes, Indian-haired giant giant Ola now focuses on electric bikes and rotary wheels.
Instead of charging batteries, which could be a time-consuming work, it intended to pick up a battery swapping model where a fully charged battery would quickly replace the discharge at swapping stations. The bounce is experimented with battery swaps.
The Government is also planning to offer incentives for manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries to boost economic growth and encourage local manufacturing under the Make in India initiative.
The falling cost of batteries could accelerate Indian electric mobility plans and make it much easier for electric vehicles to be competitive with those that run on other fuels. And there is the added bonus of cleaner air.
This would push India into electric mobility in its own unique style and in its own unique pace.