The Wave of Electric Vehicles Hitting the Shores of India

India is paving way for new technologies to park themselves in the economy. With an average age of 29 years, India is one of the youngest nations and is going to have one of the fastest growing automobile markets. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country is poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy this year. One of the most recent developments in the Indian automobile industry is the coming of Electric Vehicles. This certainly announces news of prosperity and growth, as a positive automobile sector of any economy is linked to high-disposable income of citizens. By 2020, our roads are expected to witness the EV technology and the Indian Passenger Vehicle market is said to become the 3rd largest globally.

Introduced in 2013, as part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020, the government is going big on providing a conducive environment to electric vehicles. In order to achieve national fuel security, the government is promoting hybrid & EVs in the country. E-cars are the next step in the evolution of eco-friendly cars. E-cars includes Hybrid Vehicles (HEVs), Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and Electric vehicles (EV) ranging from 2 wheelers to passenger cars. Across the globe, issues identified with vitality, its sources, uses, and effects on environmental change are at the front line of political and natural civil arguments.

The plans of promoting electric vehicles to merely reduce pollution levels has now been shifted to promoting zero-emission technologies. The government envisions to have all E-public transport systems and 30% privately-owned vehicles to be electric by 2030. Despite the efforts to push E-vehicles, there are still a few hurdles to be crossed before the E-Mobility policy can start to actualize. A few challenges in the Indian scenario are :

1. Infrastructure: Electric cars run on electricity, and to charge them we need a lot of public charging points. Until we have enough public charging outlets, it is not easy to have and maintain an electric car in India.

2. Range Anxiety: Range anxiety is a problem that has plagued the development of electric cars around the world. Currently the range is too low, only 100km per charge. When a fuel car can be fully topped off in 5mins, electric cars need a lot longer to be recharged (around 8 hours). This problem is now diminishing as we have faster-charging options like the Superchargers and DC fast chargers, however, they again require infrastructure.

3. Perception: India has only seen electric vehicles which are mere experiments and toys of the geeks. No cars have yet been introduced which could compete with the performance and practicality offered by ICE-powered vehicles. This has created a “mindset” in India, that electric cars cannot serve the purpose of commuting. People here believe in showing off these electric cars.

4. High maintenance cost: Maintenance cost also is much higher. E- Vehicles need replacement of their batteries in a periodic manner and that costs like 60K-1.5L, which can be more than the cost of petrol for an average Indian. In case the electric car breaks down, it is not that easy to get someone to fix it (like Maruti Suzuki cars, where in an India mechanic can be found very easily throughout the country.)

5. Price sensitive market: The main reason for electric cars not being popular is the availability of cheaper alternatives. Electric cars on an average cost more. An electric car to be compelling enough will be at least 15–20 lakhs, that too after being manufactured in India. Now considering the costs and existing electric cars, Teslas cost over 50 Lakhs, even the cheapest ones cost over 30 lakhs. In the Indian market, the average cost of the vehicles is 6–7 lakh Rupees compared to the western markets.

6. Lithium Reserves: India is yet to tap into its potential of lithium reserves, and therefore lithium operated batteries are yet not the norm. Considering the finite resources that the economy can utilize, the longitivty of the avenue becomes a question.

However, these reasons are expected to be short-lived and can be dealt with through strategic planning and innovation. In a recent government mandate through Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), Tata Motors Ltd. and Mahindra & Mahindra have won the tender to procure 10,000 electric cars. This certainly is a step-ahead to build upon a nation of enormous potential, and convert foresight into reality.

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