India’s emphasis on next-gen transportation has undoubtedly taken on legs under the incumbent administration, but the ‘Global Electric Mobility Project Plan (NEMMP) 2020’ was launched in 2013 in reality under the previous Congress-led administration. That further puts the concerted efforts for green mobility and electric cars across the aisle in perspective. The country has since been willing to embrace a 360-degree approach to transform into an EV nation.
In December 2019, India’s rank deteriorated from 14th position in 2017 to 5th in 2018 in the global vulnerability ladder in the Climate Risk Index 2020 published by the environmental think tank, Germanwatch. This provides it all the more rationale for India to make electric cars and buses a mission in countering fossil fuel dependence.
Although the initial movement was seen towards electrification of two-wheelers and three-wheelers, the greater need is for public electric transport and vehicles. Given the current difficulties and uncertainty inherent in the market, this largely untapped market is now being looked with hope by major automakers.
Will Electric Vehicles gain traction?
For many rationales, industry leaders view electric cars as a feasible strategy for Indian audience. According to Akhil Aryan, CEO and co-founder of ION Energy, quick and efficient adoption especially combined with the electrification of existing vehicles and the growth of charging infrastructure will lead to a shift whose significance will be felt in metropolitan cities, particularly since pollution has reached disastrous levels.
Moreover, Zoomcar founder Greg Moran added that the younger generation is motivated by creativity, sustainability and environmental protection with the median age of the Indians being 27 years. Around the same time, numerous existing conglomerates and start-ups ensure home-grown product availability by manufacturing cars, parts, and batteries together.
Challenges faced by Indian Auto industry in adopting Electric Cars:
Having broken away the old expectations and building up a modern customer culture is indeed a struggle. It is common to find users worried about velocity and range of EVs. In order to smash many myths and encourage EVs on the Indian market, a lot of sensitization and education is required. Aside from this, the introduction of electric vehicle vehicles in India in the immediate future poses a range of obstacles. Including:
- Lack of Charging Stations
- Battery performance
- Delivery-demand difference
- Absence of battery cell development:
There is a complete lack of principal manufacturing of battery cells in India which postures the risk of our trade deficit increasing. Currently most manufacturers rely on imported batteries from Japan, China, Korea, and Europe. The Indian market therefore needs a push for indigenous technologies that are strategically and economically suitable for India, such as aluminium fuel cells.
- Establishment of charging stations:
Of course, the big challenge is to set up a charging infrastructure that needs to be integrated with existing refuelling stations and at alternative locations closer to homes. According to Akhil Aryan, the installation of battery swapping stations would reduce waiting time for charging, allow better use of property, reduce the size of batteries in vehicles and offer an increased range available.
In addition, it will need to streamline the country’s charging system. Vendors of EV charging stations are currently perplexed on the standard to be followed for fast charging. While the existing standards require charging stations to install European CCS and Japanese CHAdeMO charging platforms, constructing both will increase the operating cost substantially.
ION’s Akhil Aryan figured out that if the generation is from thermal power plants functioning on coal, home charging could also be a concern, given the current electricity prices. A change in the entire electricity generation environment is what’s needed to encourage electric car production.According to Akshay Singhal, founder of Log 9 Materials, the service and maintenance options are also currently restricted given that Indian consumers prefer widespread brands with a countrywide service network.
- Improving battery performance:
Given that it would take great deal of time to duplicate the electric charging system and the ubiquity of India’s fuelling network, it is important that batteries are much more efficient in order to compete better with the internal combustion engine automobiles. The Hyundai Kona electric currently has the highest range of 452 km available on a single charge among electric cars in India, which could shift in near future.
- Bridging the divide in supply-demand:
Another great hurdle trying to prevent today’s wider adoption of EVs is the fact that the range is quite limited, thus limiting the use-cases for electric vehicles.
Effect of Covid-19 on EV Industry:
Despite the uncertainty arising from the coronavirus pandemic, electric car makers also have a flicker of hope in driving the development of the electric vehicle industry. But from a manufacturing point of view, this would entail a major change in the environment.
Currently, for certain parts, such as drivetrains and batteries, most businesses that manufacture electric vehicles on a global scale rely on imports from other countries (China, South Korea and Japan). Ironically, if one looks at the automakers producing internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, the industry’s major boost came from domestic manufacturing.
Sean Mitchell at All Things EV said electric auto makers need to decentralize their supply chain, particularly the raw materials that they can supply closer to the manufacturing sites or else it will significantly hinder the growth of electric vehicle manufacturers.
In other words, businesses need to concentrate on continuously acquiring raw materials and manufacturing battery cells locally. Similar to Tesla’s Gigafactories, “The domestic production protects them as a manufacturer of electric vehicles just a little more if they can supply their raw materials from the same continent where the vehicles are manufactured,” Mitchell said
The Covid-19 lockdowns have also delayed the Indian electric vehicle movement and restrictions on imports. The mobility market, which is a large client base for EV manufacturers, is heavily impacted. However, once the lockdown is over, many experts believe that players involved in electric vehicles need to speed up their business plans.
Audi India head Balbir Singh Dhillon also said the EVs are the way forward but the market will not grow overnight. He has said that the architecture has an important role to play, and tangible government policies towards e-mobility infrastructure and adequate support for electric vehicle imports would be a positive indicator.
Ketsu Zhang, BYD India’s executive director told that the company sees tremendous potential for the electric vehicle industry in India and as one of the biggest markets in the future. BYD, with its alliance with Olectra, has arisen as a pioneer in the electric bus market. The pair had a strong role in India, where it obtained 52 per cent market share of commercially operated electric buses in India. The first to launch pure electric buses in India were BYD and Olectra succeeded by Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and JBM Group.