Is India Ready for EV?

Indian government is encouraging commercial deployment of battery electric vehicles through the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-II) scheme. Does this mean that the country is ready for the next automobile revolution? - Priyank Agarwal

Is India ready for EV (electrical vehicle) adoption? In order to answer this pertinent question, we only need to look around for tell-tale signs. Take Mr. Sanjay as an example. He has driven cabs for many years. He underwent the un-learning required to learn to drive an electric car – and is a proud driver for a leading EV-only cabs services company. Sanjay has accepted electric mobility as a source for his daily bread.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers alighting from the Metro stations in Delhi and Gurugram undertake their last mile mobility in electric powered solutions. At the policy and regulatory level, the Indian government has made its intent – to promote clean mobility – very evident on multiple occasions. The entrepreneurial spirit of the nation has taken note of these developments and we, at Exicom, are proud to be able to not only witness, but also participate in, the rapidly changing landscape of electric mobility solutions.

All these signs, along with the focus on burgeoning pollution levels in the cities – do point towards the reality that India not only needs, but is also ready for electric mobility to take centre stage

Today, we are at the threshold of a paradigm shift in mobility that is going to be ‘shared’, ‘connected’ and ‘cleaner’. Only time can tell how the Indian mobility landscape would look like in 5 years’ time.

This mobility landscape will be dotted with xEVs (term used to refer to the broad spectrum of electric-enabled vehicles ranging from micro hybrids up till battery EVs) and the associated ecosystem. The term ecosystem is used in its widest sense – to encompass not only the spectrum of vehicles and the charging infrastructure, but also the technology-based enablers like app-based mobility solutions, seamless payment gateways, telematics, and IIoT-enabled solutions.

In terms of xEVs, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) being promoted by several automotive OEMs. In these vehicles, the traction battery can be charged by connecting the vehicles into a charging station. These vehicles (like BMW i3 Rex, Hyundai Ioniq PHEV, Toyota Prius PHV, BMW 330e etc.) also have a (smaller) conventional internal combustion engine. This category of EVs also includes Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) where electric motor(s) power(s) the drivetrain/wheels. Once the battery reaches a certain pre-determined state of charge, the conventional engine kicks-in to charge the battery (example Chevrolet Volt). In recent times, the Government of India has been promoting such ‘Strong’ hybrids, as well as full Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).

In India, the BEV space in passenger cars segment has been populated by Mahindra Electric’s e-Verito, e20Tata Motor’s e-Tigor.  Based on currently available technology under mass production, a simple cost benefit analysis brings up the fact that BEVs – not only make environmental sense – but under the right ecosystem and running conditions – make commercial sense as well. Exicom is enabling such an ecosystem in India. They are also the end beneficiaries as most of their intra-offices commute has shifted to BEVs – serviced by a promising start-up providing only clean mobility solutions.

The Government of India too has encouraged commercial deployment of BEVs as can be seen in the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-II) scheme. Several state governments have concretised plans to allow and deploy mass mobility and goods delivery solutions driven by electric motive force. We are very excited about the traction that the technology is seeing in recent times – and are working very hard and round the clock to design, develop, and deploy solutions per the speed of demand!

2019-20 is expected to be the year when electric mobility takes much deeper roots in our society – not just in the metros – but in the hinterlands as well. If one studies the growth story of one of the earliest movers in battery electric two wheelers in India, around 90% of their sales is in towns and villages and not metros.

While the global EV market is rapidly gaining momentum towards the target set by Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI) of global deployment of 20 million EVs by 2020, EVs in India are beginning to gain traction. While the government’s positive push (in form of demand incentives like subsidies) is seen as a move that will help jump-start the EV ecosystem across the country, it is our belief that the unit economics for the right use cases have already started making commercial sense. Several state governments have realised this potential and have released final and draft versions of their respective EV (and related) policies. 12 states have also introduced separate electricity tariff for EV charging. With these actions, the government’s ambitious plan to introduce 6-7 million EVs by 2022 does not seem unachievable. Ministry of Power too has taken cognizance of the need for public charging infrastructure and released a forward-looking policy in 2018 (December). The government has already de-licensed the setting up of public charging stations. Sustainable business models for running charging stations are evolving almost daily. It is also considering reducing registration fees and other taxes on EVs which will further improve the economics for those already planning to go electric.

The government is rightly pushing for a full transition of three-wheelers, and the sub-150 cc scooters and motorcycles to electric by 2023 and 2025 respectively. The Town and Country Planning Organization, Ministry of Housing, and Ministry of Urban Affairs have released amendments to Model Building By-Laws (MBBL) to provide for EV charging infrastructure for residential and other buildings (including group housing buildings).

According to these amendments, any charging station installed at a public or private area or building premises of any category that caters to the commercial mode of charging of EVs will be considered as a “Public Charging Station.”

Conclusion

India has the right talent, a promising consumer base that is pro-clean mobility, and now the rightly demonstrated regulatory commitment – a concoction that will drive the industry to solve specific mobility needs that are best solved by EVs.