Electrifying India

India is moving towards an interesting phase in coming years with lot of buzz about ELECTRIC VEHICLES. Automotive news are flooded with announcement by Government, announcement by private firms and many start ups. We are moving from refueling to recharging country.

On one side Government plans are very ambitious : Intention of having an all-electric fleet by 2030. But many automakers and industry experts consider it an improbable goal.

There is a clear gap between Government’s dialogue on Electric vehicle and What Industry experts are thinking about it. No doubt, there is a strong support from automakers and industry expert for EV initiative and things will be more concrete and clear after a Electric and Hybrid vehicle summit happening in Delhi , Dec 2017 , organised by Niti Ayog.

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There are only 158,000 electric vehicles  in India’s six-million-strong vehicle market, and only one manufacturer of all-electric passenger cars. The other problem is the lack of necessary infrastructure. Higher Li Ion batter cost.

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Today’s EV situation is different in India as compared to 7-8 years back. The challenges that India faces are not unique and its worthwhile to learn from other countries like Norway, China, US etc.

It will be really interesting to study EV policies of these country, type of charging infrastructure available with them , incentive structure and very important customer value to EV story.

Let’s first talk about charging infrastructure . 

To be successful EV nation, India must have widespread charging infrastructure. recent news from Karnataka government is really motivation that ” The state government is all set to amend the building by-laws in Karnataka to mandatorily set up charging pods and points for electrical automobiles “.

CHINA AND US : 

Electric cars need a nationwide network of charging stations. This can be achieved through government’s initiative, private participation and foreign investment. Charging infrastructure worked very well for China. In a span of 3-4 years, China has become a leader in Charging infrastructure and technology.In 2014, China’s State Grid announced its support for the development of privately-owned distributed energy organisations.

This unprecedented move spurred investment in charging infrastructure by private companies and investors, so much so that China now aims to have 4.8 million charging stations by 2020, capable of meeting the needs of 5 million electric vehicles.

” World-wide there were more than 322,000 public charging points available in 2016, IEA data show. Only about 110,000 of them were “fast” chargers, of which more than 88,000 were in China. Europe had less than 10,000 fast chargers, with Britain and Germany leading with around 1,500 fast-charging points each.”

India need to adopt China model to develop charging infrastructure and attract private investment into it.

As many retailers and hotel owners installed charging stations to attract customers, total number of charging stations has increased dramatically in last 6 years in US, making a win-win situation for EV buyers as a motivation to buy EV and help environment.

Lets discuss Engineering now 

Many OEM’s in India are doing a retrofit engineering to develop Electric vehicles and to install Electric powertrain and components on current platform. I think it not a right strategy to use current platform for EV.

For EV to be successful, electric cars must be designed from ground up with completely new design, new philosophy. New designs as per motor, battery pack and other electric powertrain requirements. Retrofit wont be a solution to engineering.

The government is doing its bit to promote electric vehicles in India. It has launched schemes such as FAME and NEMMP to support the development of the market. The state-owned Energy Efficiency Services (EESL) has invited global bids for 10,000 electric sedans and floated tenders for 4,000 charging points.

And it has been recently reported that the government is exploring plans to lease electric vehicles and batteries. However, the responsibility of creating the necessary ecosystem can’t solely be placed on the government, private players and entrepreneurs must also come forward to make it possible.

To be successful EV country, India should place the development and manufacture of electric vehicles at the center of its industrial policy. Priority should be given to Public transport, Battery swapping technology development and promotional schemes for OEM’s and Buyers.

The government intervention and policy push is required at intial phase of Electric journey.Once the market gains momentum, then investments in core component technology and infrastructure, coupled with growing adoption of electric vehicles, will lead to a tipping point, after which electrification will be entirely driven by market forces.

In India, companies like Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Honda, and Toyota already have some presence in the electric vehicles market. Global car-makers like Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Honda have electric cars in their global portfolio.

Positive development in infrastructure and policy, will bring their electric vehicles to India. All in all, India can indeed have a future for electric cars.

 

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