Doing business amidst India’s Electric Vehicle conundrum

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, when first launched in 2012 with a target of having 6-7 million electric/hybrid vehicles in India by 2020 wouldn’t have turned many heads in the sector. Five years down the line in 2017, with a new government at the helm, an announcement of having only Electric Vehicle(EV) sales by 2030 has definitely fueled speculation from all quadrants of the country. How else do we expect the sector to react, considering auto sector contributes to over 7% of GDP (~25% of manufacturing GDP), transport fuel accounts for 5% of the GDP and about 30 million direct and indirect jobs are at stake.

Ever since, the announcement was made, I have managed to keep track of the proceedings at both the central and state level with interactions with relevant stakeholders in the process.

The first discussion I had was with my colleague, Harsh Thacker, looking at the situation in India from a common citizen’s perspective.

A month down the line, Karnataka turned up with the country’s first policy on electric vehicles. It was a comprehensive policy looking at both the electric vehicles and energy storage sector.

I was also able to record the opinion of R V Deshpande, Minister for Industries, Gov. of Karnataka who was instrumental in bringing out the policy on EV and energy storage.

Simultaneously, the report commissioned by the Forum of Regulators to evaluate the impact of electric vehicles on the grid was released. Mahesh Patankar, who was the lead author in the study joined me for a discussion elaborating on the methods behind the study and why he the grid would be safe with an increasing EV penetration. The report worked on the premise, that India would have 6-7 million EVs by 2020, the only official target till date.

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala an adviser to the government of India who was one of the early proponents of the all EV vision shared his reasoning on what he calls Blind Men and an Elephant.

At the same time, the Industry body, SIAM released its white paper advocating an electric vehicle roadmap for the nation, which indirectly hinted that an all-electric vehicle fleet was not possible by 2030 and India could target the same by 2047, India’s 100th year of Independence.

Talking of industries, I happened to be part of a stakeholder consultation hosted by NITI Aayog who claims to have been given a mandate to formulate India’s electric vehicle programme. Awadesh Kumar Jha from Fortum India who has been evaluating the market for setting charging infrastructure was also part of the consultation. He joined me to discuss the outcomes of the stakeholder consultation.

Finally on a positive note, amidst the uncertainty on the policy front, the government sanctioned subsidy under the FAME programme to roll out electric buses. Funds for procurement of 390 buses were released with a deadline to place orders by end of March 2018. The state transport utilities proactively went ahead with bids and 3 companies won contracts for supply. I was glad to chat with Nikhil Dhamkar from Sun Mobility, who along with their JV partner Ashok Leyland will supply electric buses in Ahmedabad.

With the elections just a year away, we could expect some announcements in the EV space in the next few months, however, if we miss that, we could probably lose a year of action.

Image cty: Tesla

One comment

  1. Policies will play their role, However, it will be interesting to watch peoples mindset towards EV’s which would allow the penetration of EV’s much earlier than expected.

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