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Battery Swapping Should Come Under FAME’s Ambit: Piaggio India

Since vehicles running on battery swapping technology have been kept of out of the ambit of FAME2, the end customers cannot avail of any incentives under FAME2 scheme.

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Piaggio Vehicles (PVPL), a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Italian Piaggio Group, opined that the government should consider giving incentives for electric vehicles which are not only run on pre-fixed batteries but also on swappable technology solutions.  At the moment, only vehicles run on factory-fitted batteries attract discounts under FAME2 scheme. India’s leading manufacturer of small commercial vehicles has recently marked its entry into the electric vehicle with Ape’ E-City being the first product launched under the Ape’ Electrik range.

“Due to some strange reasons, battery swap is not considered under the FAME scheme.  (So it) depends on the incentive scheme-whether you want to promote electric mobility or you want to promote the acquisition of the battery. At the moment, it is more dedicated towards incentivizing towards the acquisition of the vehicle,” said Piaggio India MD & CEO Diego Graffi, while interacting with BW Businessworld recently, adding, “Battery cost is not included in the cost of the vehicle which is run on swappable batteries. But these kinds of solutions do not fall under FAME2 scheme yet. We are in discussions with the government to fall inside by next scheme announcement. I see quite positively and in favour of any initiatives coming from the central or local govt to incentivize and promote electric mobility.”

Graffi also maintained, “That (Having incentives) will be a better advantage for the customer. To be honest, we are quite agnostic from that point of view. Our growth plans are quite independent of the incentive schemes.  So our priority is to meet our customers’ expectations to be as much competitive as possible in price with the rest of the players in the market.”

It is to be mentioned that the FAME 2 policy of the Modi government envisions the creation of a robust ecosystem for electric vehicles as the centre had sanctioned Rs. 8,596 crore for incentives for various segments of vehicles apart from charging stations.  Since vehicles running on battery swapping technology have been kept of out of the ambit of FAME2, the end customers cannot avail of any incentives under FAME2 scheme.

Talking about its EV foray plans, Grafi maintained, “Under Ape Electrik, we have Ape City, and Gamma, a goods carrier.  We will be coming up with fixed battery run EV, which will be commercially available in the second quarter of (CY) 2020. Our immediate priority is to get feedback from the customers and deploy the infrastructure for a battery swap. We have already delivered more than 200 vehicles to our dealers in Calicut, Chandigarh.” When queried if the company is keen to extend this technology to two-wheelers, he maintained, “We are studying that. At the moment, we do not have a plan. We are exploring options of battery swap for two-wheelers.” Piaggio is also planning to export its EVs Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and certain African countries.

When asked to shed some light on the projected outlook for its electric vehicle variants, Grafi maintained, “Some 100,000 units (per annum) would be the market size of the auto-rickshaw category barring e-rickshaws. My expectations are that with new players coming in, it will grow quite consistently in the next two-three years. It will be 10-15% or even 20% or beyond (out) of the total market demand over the next 5 years for three-wheelers in a calendar year. That will depend not only from the potentials coming from OEMs, but also on the development of infrastructure for battery charge or for battery solutions and so on.”

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FAME Scheme piaggio india Ape’ E-City