Relatively higher cost of acquisition and lack of charging infrastructure are two of the main reasons why Indians are hesitant to adopt electric vehicles (EVs). Here is how EVs can reinvent the auto industry and help India achieve its clean energy goals. We are pro electric wave by the way and heartily support the government’s push for the same.
1) EVs reduce emissions
The growing menace of air pollution has been on everyone’s mind for good reason. Whether or not one is in direct contact with smog and particulate matter, extensive research has proved their long-term ill effects on human health and the overall livability of the city. While Delhi and many other north Indian cities grapple with the imminent threats of air pollution, states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra have devised impactful methods to bring more electric vehicles (EVs) on the streets. This promises to combat greenhouse gas (CHG) emissions and rising fuel costs simultaneously. While adoption of this simple but transformative technology is still in a nascent phase here in India, EVs have created quite a stir across the world. For example, in China EVs have helped to partially resolve the massive problem of particulate matter pollution and meet Europe’s stringent emission standards.
2) EVs reduce oil dependency
Apart from zero emissions, EVs are reducing the fossil fuel dependence of the Indian economy. India’s current oil import bill is close to $100 billion. According to NITI Aayog estimates, by 2030, due to electric vehicles, India’s oil consumption will reduce by 156 MMT slashing the oil import bill by $60 billion. This will also help India to bring down its CO2 emissions. So electric vehicles are the way forward and will benefit our country in a significant way,” says an industry insider.
3) EVs are low on maintenance
Considering fuel costs (both petrol and diesel), ICE vehicles have long since become a veritable liability for many a city-dweller. Hyderabad resident Vishweshwar Rao says, “Not just fuel, but maintenance was all adding up to my overall vehicle ownership cost. I transitioned to an electric car just about three years ago. I can say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far, at least with regard to mobility around the city. At existing fuel rates, I would be paying upwards of Rs 2000 for a full tank. I get to charge my car at residential unit rates which costs me Rs 100 or thereabouts for a 100km range.” EVs have less moving parts and hence require lower maintenance costs. Consumables such as brake pads as well as tyres and perhaps the battery (if not under warranty) are the only costs one will incur.
4) High cost of entry
This is a deterrent for many EV enthusiasts. Consider a petrol WagonR in about Rs 4.5 ex-showroom, whereas the WagonR Electric is estimated to be priced upwards of Rs 8 lakh. The higher cost of EVs is primarily due to imported parts such as lithium batteries. This inflates the cost of the vehicle despite low taxes and manufacturing incentives. With growing demand, EVs are likely to achieve economies of scale, thus driving down per unit prices for prospective owners.
5) Lack of charging infra
Apart from the cost of EVs, lack of charging infrastructure is the biggest deterrent for potential purchasers. Official data suggests that there are over 60,000 fuel stations in the country but only 150 functioning charging points here. While companies such as Tata Power have committed to set up 500 charging stations by 2020, It still isn’t enough. EV owners currently face limited mobility as the vehicle cannot run beyond 100km (cars) and 70km (bikes), in most cases.
To answer the title question, India isn’t ready for the electric wave. However we desperately need the advantages these vehicles have to offer. Come back for more policy analysis of India’s EV mission!