Union Budget 2019: India poised to be Detroit of Electric Vehicles

NEW DELHI: Even as the auto industry weathers its worst-ever slump, the government is optimistic that India will soon emerge as “Detroit of EVs,” thanks to its potential to become a global manufacturing hub for electric vehicles (EVs).

To achieve this, policies need to focus on reduction of both upfront purchase cost and lifetime running cost of an EV when compared to a conventional petrol/diesel vehicle, the survey said, noting that India currently lags in the global e-mobility race. Only 0.06% of total cars in India are electric, compared to 2% in China and around 39% in Norway.

Limited availability of charging infrastructure is a key impediment to the adoption of clean mobility, the survey said, stressing on the need for universal charging standards. The industry also needs to focus on developing battery technologies specific to Indian climatic and other conditions.

Government think-tank NITI Aayog recently unveiled target for full electrification of three wheelers by 2023 and that of two-wheelers with capacity less than 150cc by 2025. Even as policymakers are pushing to ensure that India is not left behind in the global electric mobility race, traditional auto manufacturers seem to be resisting the roadmap as they call for a phase-wise transition.

Ather Energy co-founder and CEO Tarun Mehta said given that Indians only commute for about 21 km on a daily basis, public charging infrastructure is not a large impediment. “Having safe and reliable home charging will address concerns of daily recharging,” he said.

“If India reaches an EV sales penetration of 30% for private cars, 70% for commercial vehicles, 40% for buses, and 80% for two- and three-wheelers by 2030, a saving of 846 million tonnes of net CO2 emissions and oil savings of 474 million tonnes of oil equivalent can be achieved,” the survey said. Transportation is the second largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions after the industrial sector, and road transport contributes close to 90% of the total emissions.

The survey also stressed on providing affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to citizens to achieve economic prosperity, and found “energy poverty more pervasive in India than income poverty.”

Linking energy consumption to social indicators, the survey found India lagging in energy usage. India would have to quadruple its per capita energy consumption to achieve Human Development Indicator (HDI) level of 0.8, it said. Per capita energy consumption needs to increase by 2.5 times for India to achieve real per capita GDP gains of $5,000 and enter the league of upper-middle income countries.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna, a scheme for access to clean cooking fuel, has provided seven crore LPG connections to households till April, and the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme for LPG has been adopted by 24.39 crore consumers as of March.

Noting encouraging strides in renewable energy, the survey said the government’s energy efficiency programmes have generated cost savings worth over Rs 50,000 crore and share of renewables in total electricity generation has risen from 6% in 2014-15 to 10% in 2018-19.

Comments of Venkataratnam Chaparala •

With regard to points raised in survey report, with renewables, mostly the people themselves can have reliable power. The Government should ensure that the materials required for solar installations and others are made available in the market and a bit of guidance etc. This is achieved in some of villages through initiative of the individuals and groups. In the West this is encouraged very much.
Linking higher energy consumption to social indicators may not be appropriate, specially with solar and other renewables. With the use of renewables the energy consumption reflected in the energy meters will be less as renewable energy is not reflected in the meters and hence in the bills. Moreover in the tropical country like ours, the energy consumption will be less except for summer months, specially for domestic loads. 
From environmental considerations, with renewables the energy consumption from fossil fuels should be decreased and it is happening in the West also. Hence linking energy consumption to social indicators is not appropriate.
I think we have a long way to go with renewables and EVs for our sake and for the sake of future generations.[Source-ETEnergyworld]

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