Electric Vehicles (EVs)- Boon or bane? Future or just another failed attempt at saving the Earth? These are the questions which have been roaming in our minds since last year. We, at FIC Aryabhatta decided to discuss the nitty gritties of electric vehicles and their future in India.
The discussion started with a brief introduction of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) which was launched by the Congress government in 2013. This was the first major step towards electrical mobility in India. One of the main policies implemented under this plan was ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles’ (FAME). This policy aimed to provide incentives and subsidies on price, demand and technology in order to accelerate India’s shift to electrical vehicles. After BJP came in power, they continued this plan and Mr. Modi also announced at the United Nations Climate Action Summit that they will increase India’s renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030. Right now, India has 90 GW of renewable energy which is 26% of India’s total energy levels.
We moved on to discussing the challenges and opportunities that EVs will bring to India. After agreeing on the fact that, “EVs do not mean Tesla”, the participants took turns to state the pros and cons of EVs. The gist of this insightful session was that Evs are exceptionally expensive and they need to add to their USP in order to justify their price tag. This session was made even more exciting and informative by statistics and other well- researched points. There are many pros of shifting to electric vehicles including but not limited to- low maintenance cost, lesser components required and a lower carbon footprint. However there are some cons as well. A parallel was drawn between the cheapest fuel engine car and the cheapest EV- the fuel engine car was almost Rs. 6 lakh cheaper than the EV. In the last year, 3 million EVs have been sold in India, out of which 80- 90% are two wheelers. This shows that EVs are yet to capture the 4 wheeler market in India.
India has been constantly taking steps to ease the switch to EVs. The Modi Government has promised to install 60,000 charging stations in India and bring the price of EVs below Rs. 3-4 lakhs by 2035. They have also agreed to provide free land to companies in order to attract more investments in EVs. Some participants speculated that maybe the fuel price hike last month was an attempt to make the EVs look comparatively cheaper and a better mode of transport in the future.
Right now, India will have to face a lot of hurdles- importing raw materials like lithium which have high tariff rates, increasing the demand for EVs in India which is extremely inelastic at this stage and improving the infrastructure by leaps and bounds to improve the social image of EVs. We have to build trust and improve the reliability of EVs because whenever someone buys a car, they look at three things- convenience, a low running cost and social image.
We concluded a fruitful discussion by agreeing that though EVs are the way to go forward in order to have a sustainable and better future, lots and lots of research and development is still required to make them a success in India. These include a provision for spare batteries, better maintenance services in case the car breaks down, better reliability and an increased lifespan.