Various governments in emerging economies have already indicated that they will incentivize a shift to electric vehicles. If we talk about India, the Modi government has set an ambition to go 100% electric by 2030.
The electric vehicles in India appear to be gaining traction because Tesla, the global head of EVs, has announced plans to start its operations in India. Many companies in India have already started manufacturing electric scooters. The states of India which are aggressively participating in the research and development of e-vehicles are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. The research in India has started to decrease the dependence of Lithium-Ion batteries on China.
The debate on the grounds of whether e-vehicles are good or bad for India doesn’t need many convincing factors.
All these points justify the switch from fossil fuels to e-vehicles. All the developed nations are already making a shift to e-vehicles.
When we talk about e-vehicles, we have to be very certain about the source of electricity. If we are shifting to electric vehicles but producing electricity from coal, the issue of pollution will remain. Hence, the right way to go about it would be the electricity produced by renewable energy, and, simultaneously, electric vehicles should also use the same source of renewable electricity.
If we aim to shift towards EV by 2030, as promised by the Modi government, the following challenges need to address.
In the current scenario, if a person has to go a long distance because he has a low charge in his e-vehicle. The options for him to re-charge are very minuscule. In India, we have 70,000 filling stations in about 718 districts. Within every 5-6 km, a filling station can be easily located. On the other hand, there are only 300 charging stations for EVs. In such a scenario, a person with an electric vehicle will face a troublesome journey. To conquer this problem, the government is taking steps, but the pace is comparatively slow.
If a person wants to buy a medium car in India, let’s assume a Maruti Suzuki Swift. The on-road price of the vehicle in the petrol variant is 6-7Lakhs. On the other hand, the electric car offered by Tesla starts at 60 lakhs in India. India is a price-sensitive market and a shift to e-vehicles will only be sustainable if it is affordable.
India has a huge technology problem. If we talk about a general Maruti Suzuki Swift Petrol car, it has a fuel tank capacity of 40 litres. If the mileage is 15 km per litre, the car can go up to 600 km. Similarly, in terms of technology, if we talk about a completely charged vehicle, will it cover the same distance? In India, we have a popular EV company named Ather. On a complete charge, it can go up to 120 km on Indian roads as quoted by the company.
Due to a lack of technology, India has to import most of the e-vehicle materials. The battery component in an EV is very crucial. Currently, all the batteries run on Lithium-Ion Technology. Again, the reserve of lithium in India is questionable. Therefore, for most of the battery and EV electronic components, India has to import them from China, which has led to its strategic dependence on China
India has a problem with a skilled workforce in terms of electric vehicles. The technology is new and renowned educational institutions aren’t able to adapt considering the changing EV technology of the world.
The biggest problem that the automobile sector will face would be the possible disruption of the market. Since many automobile companies like Kia, MG Morris Garages, Jeep, etc. have recently entered India and have invested heavily, electric vehicles would lead to a complete disruption in the Indian automobile market. We need a slow and steady transition to electric vehicles so that existing automobile companies will also be able to transition to EVs.
The government has already initiated a plan in has announced plans to start its operations in India. Many companies in India have already started manufacturing electric scooters. The states of India which are aggressively participating in the research and development of e-vehicles are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. This research work will help India to decrease the dependence of Lithium-Ion batteries on China.
The government has already initiated a plan in the year 2013, through which they are incentivizing electric vehicles by providing tax benefits etc.
In the year 2015, Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India was first started. Its second phase has already been started. With this, the government is focussing on four major aspects of EV, such as
A nationalized mission in the year 2019, started which focuses on the research and development of battery technology to decrease the dependence on China. With this, the government is also inviting foreign players to explore the Indian market, such as Tesla, etc.
These steps are competitive, but to make a fruitful transition to EV, there’s an urge to focus on the following Focus Areas
India has only 300 charging stations; However, India has aimed to have 2900 charging stations by the year 2023. The work of the Indian government has started and we need more PPP (Public-Private Partnership) collaboration to achieve this target. Battery technology is really important. However, the 2019 commission focuses on this alarming issue, where the motive is to diversify the dependencies from adversaries to allies, and mostly on the creation of India-based technology. The Indian government has not been very forthcoming about electric vehicle education. EV courses need to be introduced into the school curriculum. Bachelors and vocational curriculum have to be devised to solve the technology and skilled labor crisis. Another grave challenge would be how well the existing automobile industry can transit towards EV segments.
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