With pollution spike round the corner, India still grapples with clear EV policy

With the monsoons at their fag end, nature's best pollution control will be over soon, and it will be back to the man made disaster that passes off for our city air. From Delhi to Kolkata , to Mumbai and Chennai, air quality levels will plummet, but a concerted EV policy is still missing.

For residents of Delhi, even the monsoons could not improve the air quality grades to excellent. A good was all we got, despite a relatively plentiful monsoon this year. That’s a bad omen for the situation in the coming winters, when pollution levels truly spike to world leading levels.

source: aqicn.org
Delhi on September 3
Bangalore on Sep 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus, even as british royalty went ahead and added a loire blue Tata Motors’ electric Jaguar I-pace for £60,000, the first EV to grace the  royal fleet of Bentleys and Range rovers, families rich or not so rich in India still consider the option of owning an electric car as a poor economic decision. The famed FAME India scheme with an outlay of around Rs 5,500 crore spanning over five years and subsidy support for all types of electric vehicles (EVs), by leaving out Hybrids, has only made the waters muddier:

 

Car Model

Vehicle Type Subsidy Price Maharashtra subsidy
1

Mahindra e2oPlus

4 wheeler 124000 5.46-8.46 Lakhs

81900- 126900

2

Mahindra E Verito

4 wheeler 138000 9.5-10 Lakhs

142500- 150000

3

Toyota Camry

4 wheeler 70000 31.98 lakhs

479700

4

Maruti Ciaz Diesel SHVS Std

4 wheeler 13000 10.5-11 Lakhs

157500- 165000

5 Volvo 8400 B5RLEH 4×2 (Bus) 4 wheeler 610000 2.3 Crores

-na-

To know more on subsidies offered, click here

So if I buy a 100% Electric car, I might get a subsidy but will have to wait say 1-2 years till I get proper infrastructure to charge my car outside my home or 50 km radius(as one charge gives me say 100 kms in the best case scenario) or battery swapping facility within 100 kms so that I can enjoy family time outdoors or solo car drives. Especially for travel beyond metros.

So initial buyers bet on hybrids as a practical and feasible option. One can easily get fuel from several oil depots sprinkled all around the country. But I have yet to see charging stations with my own eyes as I roam in the city. The Global mobility summit which will conclude this weekend (6-7 Sep), has high hopes as India’s automobile industry and pollution experts are waiting for a clearer policy and road map for electric vehicles. From the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi himself. Participants will also include global and Indian leaders foreign governments, various inter-governmental organizations, academia, and policy think tanks.

Several companies have electric vehicles ready in their international portfolio but haven’t launched them in Indian market again due to unclear norms about its EV Policy.

Some states though have made some headway. Maharashtra and Karnataka are two.  Maharashtra has announced 15% upfront subsidy for the first 100,000 electric vehicles registered and Karnataka is planning to invest more than Rs 30,000 crores to set up EV manufacturing units. Government is reportedly working out the chinks of the new EV Policy but as winters are approaching the dangers of pollution only adds urgency on the need to take action, and BE SEEN to take action. According to WHO, the 9 most polluted cities in the world are in India, and according to another report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, India has got 14 out of 20 top polluted cities in the world and also topped global pollution deaths in 2015 when 2.5 million, out of nine million deaths worldwide, were blamed on rising pollution.

With oil prices surging and the rupee depreciating, the govt’s has inadvertently done its bit to make EV’s more viable, thanks to the tax loading on fuel prices. A detailed and clear EV policy will boost car sales too as people only need a conducive ecosystem to buy new EVs as cost and battery charging are the two main hurdles that need solutions asap. Indian bought 20 million two wheelers in 2017 and it makes nearly 80% of all vehicles sold in the country, and government can start with 2-wheelers sales as these need simple charging points.

Battery and its range which when combined with lack of charging station discourages people from buying e-vehicles, till date. So if we can get government work with R&D and slash rates of commercially charging of EVs as well, this might soon solve the battery swapping/charging problem. As no consumer would like to stand in long queues for battery recharge, a sound charging/swapping infrastructure is urgently needed.

India being one of the largest growing economies in the world has minimal involvement in the EV revolution. According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), the electric vehicles industry is at a nascent stage in India accounting for less than 1% of the total vehicle sales with only a few thousand electric cars on its roads. So if we have to roll out more electric cars in future from production to sales, we need an all-rounder policy.

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