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India Gets A Head Start In Electric Vehicles, Says VK Singh

Our Hydrogen technology will be the cheapest when it is in demand, the minister says

Photo Credit : Urvi

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L to R: Mohammed Turra, Nishant Arya, Sudhendu J. Sinha

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have become more than a buzzword of late. The government is taking steps to address this issue, while private players, especially startups have started working on making EVs a reality. We need an organised way forward, to build heavy infrastructure and promote domestic manufacturing in line with ‘Atmanirbhar Bahrat'.

Talking about this issue, Dr VK Singh, Minister of Road Transport and Highway, says, “We have issues with Lithium, we lag a little behind. We are looking at procurement which is controlled by one country. India has been working on alternatives under Atmanirbhar Bharat… Our Hydrogen technology will be the cheapest when it is in demand.”  India is set to achieve great heights in this department.

However, these ambitions are not devoid of challenges. For example, inter-city is yet to be realised by EV charging issues. Some are claiming fast charging. 2-wheeler speed is not enough for youngsters, making it less attractive. It has to be made reasonably fast enough. We need a sufficient ecosystem, manufacturing, power supply, and parts built in India. Even battery fires were a software issue, corrected by two students of IIT Kharagpur.  “There are sectors in which we are doing very well, like solar energy is way cheaper than rest of the world.” added the minister, painting a positive picture of India's renewable sector, despite the challenges, of which EV is a critical part.

Talking about this issue ahead, S Krishnakumar, co-chairman National Council on Auto & Auto Ancillaries, Assocham, said, “There is a need for the year to covert 400GW into renewable energy while looking at how we can power the EV vehicles. By 2030, we will have 100 million EVs, which will require 200 GW of power.” This is in line with India's commitment to Paris Deal in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions. These ambitions are not far from getting realised, we will see a rise in motor technology. India will require incentives magnets which are imported into the countries.  We need 3 million charging points for 100 million EVs, which is a good thing given that is it just three per cent of the total EV goal.

The government is promoting EV vehicles heavily at the central and state level, with FAME II being pushed in full force. The market is shaping up conductively as well, while we plan and fast-track EV manufacturing. India is appreciated internationally for its efforts.  Speaking about this, Sudhendu J. Sinha, Advisor- Infrastructure Connectivity, Transport and Electric mobility NITI Ayog, says, “The target is 1 million vehicles (two-wheelers) to be incentivised, and 3 million on the road, the target is 2024, but we will do it earlier.” In India, 1.5 lakh busses are used by STUs and the government will replace them one by one. It will push the price below diesel and gasoline buses. In USA and Canada, there are 1500 buses in total, which puts India way ahead of the EV race.

Other questions are being addressed as well, like whether can it become part of Priority Sector Lending (PSL), which will be different for different classes of vehicles. The starting point is buses where models are emerging in full force. We need investment for this to materialise. We need a model where financials can take that risk of investment in this department. We primarily need cooperation with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for this, in addition to others. To make this sector attractive, the government has already invested 50,000 crore Rupees. What we require now is a leap of faith. By 2024-25, the first Make In India batteries will come out, and the time is ripe for private players to invest in full scale.

Talking about how the industry views EVs, Mohommed Turra, Senior Vice President and Head of leasing and subscription business (Quikyz) Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services, “when vehicles are put with the battery it is recognised, not when batteries are sold separately. That is why the battery has to come together.” He said, giving an industry perspective, and why they support battery swapping. There is a great demand for industry and government collaboration today.


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