Can India become an EV superpower?
When India’s finance minister Piyush Goyal unveiled the budget for 2019, he said, “India will lead the energy revolution in the world with electric vehicles.”
Electric mobility in India is still at a nascent stage. The concept is new, and the willingness to adapt to this cleaner form of mobility still remains low.
But India definitely needs EV
In the face of continuously degrading standards of air quality and an ever-growing menace of pollution, the country seriously needs to rethink and embrace its EV priorities. The fact that India is home to 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities makes this an even more dire necessity.
Are we doing enough to embrace the EV wave?
The government thinks we are. A host of key initiatives to mainstream the use of electric vehicles have already been launched. Take for instance the National E-Mobility Programme, that has policies like FAME II and Delhi EV policy.
However, the electric vehicle sector in India is currently isn’t growing as much as we’d want it to, with a 40% decrease in the sale of electric cars in the financial year 2017-1018. While a lot of startups and other enterprises are entering the fray, and consumers are gradually warming up to the idea, a lack of supporting infrastructure is hampering its rapid adoption. Currently, India doesn’t have a proper charging infrastructure or policy support for the same. This calls for a major overhaul for India to emerge as a superpower in the EV sector.
How can we achieve it?
There are numerous steps that the country needs to take in order to shift the narrative to EV. To begin with, manufacturing needs to become a priority so we can build all the EVs we need, without the need to import them at high costs. In the recent budget, the government increased customs duty on import of lithium-ion battery, which will ultimately increase the cost to consumers, thereby discouraging EV adoption. For that to stop, indigenous manufacturing is the only way out. It will not only control the costs, but also allow us to design products best suited for the Indian market and terrain.
Another crucial factor that will help India become an EV superpower is a fantastic charging ecosystem. While mainstreaming EVs, it’s important to look back at how we made mistake during CNGs, with never-ending queues outside gas stations. The FAME II and Delhi EV policy on charging infra has some interesting suggestions, but these two policies are not enough to handle the load of a country as big as India. The need of the hour is to draft more operational and workable policies. Additionally, EV efforts should not just be contained to private vehicles, but also be extended to short-mile connectivity and public transportation to further encourage its mainstreaming.
The support of startups
India’s entrepreneurial landscape is thriving, and many startups have come forward to further the EV agenda. While some have taken charge of manufacturing, many others are popularizing the utility of EVs vis-à-vis shared mobility solutions. The government needs to support more such initiatives and enterprises to bolster the EV agenda.
Long way to go
All these solutions are just the tip of the iceberg; there’s still lots more that the country can do. What the sector needs is a solid push from the government to support innovation and improve ease of doing business. Moreover, the government also needs to start incentivizing EV users or operators to aid rapid adoption, along with laying down a clear roadmap, and possibly a robust EV policy.
With consistent efforts, India has a fair shot at becoming a global EV superpower, and leading the charge from the front.
Debarati is a perpetual wanderer, a thorough planner and a closet Bollywood lover. She spends her time writing and reading about anything and everything, when not busy fantasizing about a cabin in the mountains and food. Lots of food.