By Pramod Thomas:
The future of mobility is going to be predominantly electric across the globe and India will be no exception. The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), which represents Indian manufacturers of electric vehicles (EV) and components, has been striving to push e-mobility in India for over a decade. It works closely with the Central and State governments to assist in the formulation of policies and processes that support the EV ecosystem.
In February 2018, the SMEV members had a meeting with the officials of the Department of Heavy Industry and NITI Aayog to boost e-mobility in India. “Overall, the meeting was productive. We expect that the government will take proactive measures to promote e-mobility in India,” Sohinder Gill, Director Corporate Affairs, SMEV, told AutoParts Asia.
“The transition to EVs is a lengthy process and stakeholders have to take bold steps to promote its adoption. The industry players have no clarity on the government plans. There is no policy in place and talks about an action plan are going on,” he said.
The government had initiated several programmes like the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP-2020), Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric vehicles in India (FAME) policy, and the rationalization of import duties and reduction of local taxes and levies to promote EVs.
SMEV works closely with NITI Aayog, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry and the State nodal agencies on policy framework and pilot projects for the implementation of e-mobility in many States and Union Territories. As a result, the Union Government has set the GST rate for electric vehicles at 12 percent and the Karnataka government has approved an EV policy.
“There is much more to be done by OEMs even to achieve 50 percent electrification in the two-wheeler segment, 30 percent in cars and 30 percent in public transport. Lack of charging stations and infrastructure, low incentives, and affordability are other issues. But, with indigenisation and building adequate charging points in every highway, city, urban and rural area in a planned manner, we can achieve a bit of it,” he said.
Lack of manufacturers of the lithium-ion batteries, their high cost, low incentives for consumers, lack of financial support from banks to buy EVs as compared to ICEs (60 percent ICEs are financially incentivised by the banks), are making EVs less affordable to the end customer.
Gill said that the government along with the industry, policymakers and other players, have to find the right place for start-ups in their EV plans.
“We have many OEMs who have been manufacturing EV equipment, working on indigenous technology development and assembling various local EV components, which will cut down the ownership cost of EVs. Some of the OEMs follow the battery swapping model. This will reduce price of EVs as batteries make up almost 60 percent of their price. In this a customer does not have to pay an upfront cost for the battery as he can pay this cost in instalments during every swap he makes,” he said.
Gill believes that providing incentives to consumers would encourage adoption of EVs in India. “There are no indigenous lithium-ion battery manufacturers and the imported batteries are costlier. That is why despite having an e-scooter production line, they move much slower than regular scooters in the market. If the incentives are increased, more people will switch to EVs,” he said.
According to Gill, lack of awareness is another hurdle. The EVs are emission-free and will bring down the carbon footprint and pollution levels. This will result in a higher health index in the country.
“Make in India will transform the automotive manufacturing industry standards in India. Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber have already partnered with Tata and Mahindra. In Nagpur, EV became a reality. It is also the first city with EV charging stations. Such initiatives could disrupt the future of India’s “EV transformation”, Gill said.