Where on one hand Delhi is emerging as the Electric Vehicle (EV) capital of India with the highest monthly electric vehicles sales in the country, Maharashtra on the other is leading the race in supporting its EVs with 2,345 public charging stations all across the state. It wouldn’t be a long-shot if India were to emerge as one of the world EV leaders once it achieves its goal of electrifying 30 per cent of its vehicles by 2030.
As per research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Los Angeles, India’s potential to become the EV world leader lies in its ability to transition its trucks from diesel to electric since it would enable India to effectively meet its net zero goals by 2070. To achieve this target, India needs to electrify 79 per cent of its freight fleet.
Diesel trucks are a major contributor to India’s carbon footprint since they account for 57 per cent of the petroleum that is used in the transport sector. Therefore, the report suggests that “electric trucks would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 9 per cent from 35 per cent per kilometer compared with diesel trucks.”
There is an expectation of approximately 20 to 25 per cent adoption rate around light trucks, which would result in over 9,30,000 electric commercial vehicles. Although there are more than 2,000 electric buses currently running in India, heavy duty trucks are yet to take their first steps towards electrification. This issue can be addressed via specially designed FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) policies covering these 20 tonne giants.
Apart from the FAME-II policies, several states have drafted their own EV policies, especially when it comes to two and three wheelers since they account for about 80 per cent of the vehicle sales in India. As per a White Paper published by World Economic Forum, “Achieving 100 percent electrification of India’s two and three-wheeler stock requires a capital allocation of approximately USD 285 billion.”
A major hurdle, still, is the pricing of these vehicles and the cost of replacing their batteries. One of the reasons for this is India’s dependency on Lithium-ion battery imports owing to deficiency in the minerals required to manufacture one — lithium, cobalt, nickel, and magnesium. These imports make the procurement cost of EVs a bit too high for an average Indian.
FAME-II had addressed this issue and provided necessary subsidies to people looking to transition to EVs. Out of the 1,57,338 EVs sold in India in May 2023, three wheelers accounted for 28 per cent of the sales, whereas two-wheelers made up a whopping 66 per cent of the sales being the most affordable of all categories.
Apart from existing EV products like Tata Nexon EV and Mahindra e-Verito, now Volvo India, in an attempt to expand the luxury electric vehicle market in India, has also entered the game with the plans of phasing out half of their fossil fuel-based models by 2025. With such plans ahead, India saw a 151.36 per cent increase in its passenger electric vehicle sales in May 2023 as compared to May 2022, but it still made up only 4.73 per cent of the total EV retail pie because of the heavy costs associated with them.
Due to the R&D push from the Automotive Research Association of India, India is catching up with the fast charging technology, providing affordable charging solutions to India. As per the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, India has 8,735 operational charging stations spread across the country which are being handled by 57 private players and 27 Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
In December 2022, the EV Yatra platform was launched by the Indian President, which would enable all EV users to locate the charging stations near them all across the country.
India’s electric mobility journey has just begun, with immense potential for growth and innovation. The government’s commitment to an electrified future, coupled with ongoing policy support, will be critical in shaping the industry’s trajectory. Investment in charging infrastructure, both in urban and rural areas, must be a priority. Collaboration with renewable energy providers will help further reduce the carbon footprint of electric mobility. Additionally, continuous technological advancements, such as the development of more efficient indigenous batteries and improvements in charging times, will enhance the overall user experience and encourage wider adoption.