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BW Businessworld

Come 2021, Taxi Operators Can Only Induct E-Cars

"EVs are the long-term future for India and our industry is getting ready to start the development," R.C. Bhargava, Maruti Suzuki Chairman

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As the Indian government’s push for all-electric car fleet by 2030, taxi operators across the country, including cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, will be permitted to buy only zero-emission vehicles from 2021 onwards. The government is also inviting proposals from cities with a population of over 10 lakh to provide grants worth Rs. 105 crore under FAME India scheme for the mass adoption of electric vehicles in multi-modal public transport. The 'Expression of Interest' has been floated by the Heavy Industries Ministry, which has invited state governments and municipal corporations for switching to electric vehicles for shared mass transport.

Vishnu Mathur, Director General, SIAM told BW Businessworld, “There is no reason why e-taxis can’t be there in the market. But the government has to set up the (charging) infrastructure. Also, it is a matter of customer acceptance. If the customers are accepting it, there is nothing better than that. We will be able to reduce fossil fuel consumption. We were the ones which actually took the initiative in 2012. The whole idea is to sell electric vehicles to the people at large. The number of charging stations should be as many petrol pumps as possible. At the end of the day, it is about the convenience to the people.”

“Electric cars are definitely the way forward for Indian OEMs and the entire ecosystem has started working in this direction. However the technology is still a barrier and Indians needs a low-cost effective solution to adapt to electric cars which are still a distant dream The government’s push for an all-electric taxi fleet in metros will be the first step to encourage OEMs to invest more in electric cars,” said Puneet Gupta, Associate Director, Automotive Forecasting, IHS Automotive.

In a related development, Uber India has recently tied up with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., wherein the world’s largest ridesharing company will explore the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) from the Indian automaker on its platform in several cities across India. To begin with, the companies will deploy hundreds of electric vehicles in Delhi and Hyderabad. Likewise, Ola along with M&M, launched a programme to build an electric mass mobility ecosystem in Nagpur and over 100 of Mahindra’s e20 plus vehicles have already been inducted by the Indian taxi aggregator in that city.

Maruti Suzuki Chairman R.C. Bhargava has earlier said, “The Indian auto industry also subscribes to the same notion of the government on propagating e-mobility. Although we support the government’s intent, I feel customers will decide the ideal technology of the future. In order to make a product acceptable to customers, the price and the ability to use an e-car almost in the same manner and convenience vis-à-vis petrol-driven vehicles are imperative. Then only it can become a mass product. EVs are the long-term future for India and our industry is getting ready to start the development.”

Meanwhile, other than the monetary grant of up to Rs 105 crore per city, the central government is also expected to provide funds for setting up charging stations and other infrastructure with a maximum ceiling of Rs 15 crore per city. The cities will be selected based on certain parameters such as the population of that city, its average pollution level, the number of vehicles registered and ranking in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.