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Taking a step closer to the goal of 100% electric vehicles by 2030, the Indian government has invited tenders for up to 10,000 EVs that would reportedly be hitting the roads in the national capital region within the next six to eight months. Additionally, it is looking to invites bids for 4,000 charging stations in Delhi NCR.

Six of the country’s leading automakers, including Tata Motors, Renault, Hyundai, Nissan, Maruti Suzuki, and Mahindra & Mahindra, have already expressed interest in partnering with the government for the project.

Commenting on the development, Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director at Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), stated, “We have a thing that we start small; we try to do things right, and then immediately scale it up to things that people can’t even imagine. We are testing a business model. This is a signal to the industry that government is serious about it. And 10,000 EVs is just the starting.”

According to government officials close to the development, the move is part of a bigger initiative aimed at putting more than 1 Mn electric three-wheelers and 10,000 electrically-powered city buses on the country’s roads by mid-2019.

The bidding on the tender will take place on September 25, and will be awarded on the last day of the month. As pointed out by Kumar, the entire procurement process taking place in two phases. He said, “Because we are not sure because today there is only one manufacturer, which is Mahindra. So in the three month period, we are not sure whether anybody else will be able to get cars. We want the vehicles to start trickling in by November 15.”

In a related development, Mumbai-headquartered Mahindra & Mahindra launched its electric three-wheeler called e-Alfa Mini yesterday. Priced at $1,753 (INR 1.12 Lakh), the e-rickshaw boasts a top speed of around 25 km/h and 85 km range. As per reports, it will be available in Kolkata, Lucknow, and other regions of the country.

NCR To Get 10,000 Electric Vehicles And 4,000 Charging Stations

Established under the Ministry of Power, EESL is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation, and POWERGRID. Working to facilitate growth of the country’s energy efficiency market, EESL has reportedly invited tenders for nearly 4,000 electric vehicle charging stations in NCR alone.

Speaking about the objective of the initiative, Kumar added, “There is full justification for a consumer to start using electric cars. Once you have 4,000 charging stations, once you have 10,000 vehicles in Delhi and NCR, people will start demanding electric cars.”

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To expedite the shift to electric vehicles, the government is also considering offering an array of financial incentives to make capital and running cost of EVs cheaper than petrol cars in the next five years.

These benefits will likely include zero duties on electric vehicles as well as lower electricity costs. In addition to electric cars and charging stations, the Government of India is gearing up to float a tender for up to 50,000 electric three-wheelers by December 2017. Bids for battery-powered buses will open sometime next year, sources revealed.

How The Government Is Steering India Towards 100% EVs

As per a report by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, there has been a 37.5% rise in the sale of EVs in India in recent years. In addition to working towards switching to 100% electric vehicles by 2030, the Indian government agreed to bear up to 60% of the research and development (R&D) costs for developing the indigenous low-cost electric technology in January 2017.

Later in May, it was reported that the government is inking a deal with SoftBank for low-interest funding of around 200K electric buses to be deployed in public transport. To cut losses on one of its biggest investments in India, Japanese firm SoftBank reportedly even announced plans to turn Ola into an electric car manufacturer.

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In the same month, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated the first multi-modal electric vehicle project in India, along with an Ola electric charging station in Nagpur, in order to celebrate the third anniversary of the Narendra Modi-led government.

A month later, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company was in talks with the Indian government for import exemption on EVs. In July, Mercedes Benz Managing Director of India Roland Folger urged the central government to offer incentives for the manufacturing of electric vehicles. The German automaker claimed that it would be able to introduce electric vehicles in India by 2020, provided it receives adequate support from regulatory authorities.

Recently, Mumbai-headquartered JSW Energy announced plans to launch electric vehicles (EVs) in India by 2020. To that end, the company has promised $545.72-$623.68 Mn (INR 3,500-INR 4,000 Cr) for the next three years.

Towards the end of August, it was reported that Tata Motors is looking to foray into the electric vehicle space with a revamped version of its cheapest car, Nano. The Mumbai-headquartered multinational automaker has already conducted a road test of the Nano EV in Coimbatore.

While reports of the government’s plans to make India an electric vehicle nation by 2030 has long been making the rounds, the latest development is quite possibly one of the first concrete steps taken to materialise the ambitious goal. To that end, partnerships with prominent automotive players like Tata Motors, Renault, Hyundai, Nissan, Maruti Suzuki, and Mahindra & Mahindra, will likely make the target more achievable. By offering financial incentives and installing a robust network of charging stations in NCR, the government is looking to promote EVs as a viable alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles.

(The development was reported by ET)

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