A new year, a new dawn. The year 2018 is poised to usher in unprecedented technological disruption and innovation across all sectors. In the mobility industry, electric vehicles are currently one of the most buzzworthy topics. Beating major powers like the US, China, Russia and Britain, Norway has set a new world record, with electric and hybrid vehicles accounting for nearly 52% of its total car sales in 2017 against 40% in 2016. This is indeed an impressive feat as it marks the first time that the Scandinavian nation’s fossil fuel market shares have dipped below 50%.
Coming to some of the developments that took place over the last seven days, the Karnataka government recently announced plans to procure 640 electric vehicles under the Central government’s FAME India subsidised scheme. Gurugram-headquartered power electronics solutions provider Exicom Tele-Systems is set to supply 125 EV chargers to EESL.
After electric vehicles, government-run think tank NITI Aayog is now pushing methanol as a more efficient alternative to fossil fuels. As per reports, the Aayog, in its recommendations to the government, has argued that vehicles fueled by conventionally-generated electricity are neither sustainable nor cost-effective.
In other news, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo created quite a stir when he said that the government has no plans to switch to 100% electric vehicles by 2030, in a written reply to the Parliament.
The much-awaited procurement of electric vehicles by EESL from Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra will likely get delayed due to the lack of adequate charging infrastructure in the country. The EVs were originally scheduled for delivery by November 30, which was later postponed to December 30.
Given that so much has been happening in the country’s electric vehicle sector, we bring to you the seventh edition of the weekly EV roundups.
No Plans To Switch To 100% Electric Cars By 2030: Government
Despite the increasing participation of corporates, startups and investors in the electric mobility drive of the Indian government, it seems that there are currently no concrete plans to switch to all electric vehicles by 2030. As per reports, the Parliament was informed of this during a Lok Sabha meeting this week.
“There are, at present, no plans under consideration of the Department of Heavy Industry to make all vehicles in the country powered by electricity by 2030,” said Babul Supriyo, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in a written reply.
According to sources, his reply came as an answer to a question raised in Lok Sabha about the government’s plans to transition to EVs by 2030. The development comes just over a week after Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal had stated, “We are going to introduce electric vehicles in a very big way. We are going to make electric vehicles self- sufficient like UJALA. The idea is that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country.”
Karnataka Govt. To Buy 640 Electric Vehicles Under FAME India
The Karnataka state government will purchase 640 electric vehicles under the Central government’s FAME India subsidised scheme, as per an official statement. The statement said, “We have received approval from the Department of Heavy Industries to purchase the electric vehicles under the National Electricity Mobility Mission of the Central government’s Fame India scheme.”
Of the total EVs, 40 will be buses, 100 cars and 500 three-wheelers. The Department is giving subsidy up to 60% under the scheme with funds to set up infrastructure to charge the vehicles across Bengaluru, the statement further revealed. The electric vehicles will be operated by the state-run transport corporation.
The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) India scheme was launched in 2015 to promote eco-friendly vehicles across the country by providing fiscal and monetary incentives for adoption and market creation of both hybrid and electric vehicles. The Phase 1 of the FAME scheme was launched in 2015 and is set to expire on March 31, 2018.
Exicom Tele-Systems To Supply 125 EV Chargers To EESL
Gurugram-headquartered power electronics solutions provider Exicom Tele-Systems is set to supply 125 EV chargers to Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL). As per reports, the company is preparing to install 100 AC charging stations with a capacity of 3.3 kilowatt each. The remaining 25 will be DC chargers boasting a capacity of 15 kilowatt.
Commenting on the development, Exicom MD Anant Nahata said, “Our solutions are capable of delivering the performance needed for anxiety-free transport at the lowest cost while also helping to solve many problems like reducing pollution and oil import.”
Established under the Ministry of Power, EESL is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation, and POWERGRID.
EESL’s EV Procurement Plan Suffers Delay Due To Lack Of Charging Stations
The much-awaited procurement of electric vehicles by EESL from Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra will likely get delayed due to the lack of adequate charging infrastructure in the country. The EVs were originally scheduled for delivery by November 30, which was later postponed to December 30. According to an EESL official, the EVs will be delivered only after Exicom Tele-Systems, the company that was awarded the tender to build charging stations, commences work.
He stated, “The token vehicles have been sent to us by both the companies. Currently, we are in the process of setting up charging stations and in another couple of weeks we are hopeful of starting the delivery.”
The government is gearing up to procure the electric vehicles from Tata and Mahindra within the next two weeks, the EESL official added. Working to facilitate the growth of the country’s energy efficiency market, EESL invited tenders for up to 10,000 electric vehicles and 4,000 EV charging stations in September 2017. The tender was eventually awarded to Tata Motors, while Mahindra said it would match Tata Motors’ lowest bid of $15,534 (INR 10.16 Lakh) per vehicle.
Bharat Stage VI Emission Norms Could Increase Two Wheeler Costs: Honda
In addition to transitioning to all electric vehicles by 2030, the Indian government is also looking to institute Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission norms by 2020. Because these norms are currently the strictest in the entire world, making them mandatory would increase two-wheeler costs leading to a significant drop in their sales, said Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India.
During a recent media interaction, the President and CEO of Honda Motor’s two-wheeler unit, Minoru Kato stated, “Basically we don’t have a success story (on the electric vehicle front) unfortunately. Honda has been developing electric motorcycles for more than 20 years. In Japan, we launched electric in the past but they don’t exist anymore.”
Kato added that the company has no immediate plans to launch electric vehicles in India as battery size and cost are still a major concern in the country. Kato added, “Still we have time and honestly speaking we don’t have electric battery technology and we need to rely on the battery suppliers.”
Incidentally, last week, the Japanese carmaker announced plans to set up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in India. Honda Cars India, the Indian arm of the Minato-headquartered automotive giant, is reportedly in the process of identifying the type of electric vehicles that would be best suited for Indian roads.
As per an earlier announcement by Honda, electric vehicles will account for up to 65% of the company’s overall sales by 2030, with 15% being pure electric and the remaining being hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell powered cars.
Government’s Electric Vehicle Mission 2030 Not Practical: Toyota’s Shekar Viswanathan
While the government has been rushing to make India an all-electric nation by 2030, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Vice-Chairman and Whole Time Director Shekar Viswanathan recently said that the Indian government should adopt a technology-agnostic approach when it comes to EVs.
This, according to Viswanathan, would offer consumers the freedom to make independent choices, while also giving manufacturers enough leeway to meet consumer preferences. Calling the government’s ambitious goal to switch to 100% electric vehicles by 2030 “not practical and not the way forward”, Shekar said that EVs alone would not make any substantial improvement to the country’s pollution levels.
He added, “In time to come, others may choose hydrogen because there is zero pollution in hydrogen vehicles. So, I think the government has to recognise this, be technology-agnostic, and encourage all technologies and fix the tax rates accordingly. All technologies must be encouraged because nobody knows which technology is going to succeed.”
“I don’t think electric vehicles is the immediate answer. Yes, there will be a certain percentage of vehicle population which will have electric, but we still have to rely on internal combustion engines, hydrogen vehicles and hybrid vehicles for the remainder,” Shekhar went on to state.
NITI Aayog Pushes For Adoption Of Methanol-Based Electric Vehicles
After electric vehicles, government-run think tank NITI Aayog is now pushing methanol as a more efficient alternative to fossil fuels. As per reports, the Aayog, in its recommendations to the government, has stated that methanol-based hybrid vehicles would be powered by electricity generated on board from the chemical.
It has further argued that vehicles fueled by conventionally-generated electricity are neither sustainable nor cost-effective. As per a government official close to the development, NITI Aayog’s reasoning is based on the following facts: methanol is more easily available, less polluting and has higher electricity mobility than gasoline.
In addition to reducing India’s dependence on environmentally-harmful fossil fuels, NITI Aayog has argued that methanol could also help produce cost-effective electric vehicles. The official said, “Lithium is not an easily available resource and the world will run out of the basic resource if all switch over to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Hence, it is not a sustainable solution.”
“Moving to electric vehicles would require setting up of large infrastructure, mainly charging stations across the country, and it would put additional burden on already growing demand for electricity,” he added.
EVs Accounted For More Than 52% Of Norway’s Total Car Sales In 2017
Beating major powers like the US, China, Russia and Britain, the Scandinavian nation of Norway has set a new world record, with electric and hybrid vehicles accounting for nearly 52% of its total car sales in 2017 against 40% in 2016. Commenting on the impressive feat, Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) Chief Oeyvind Solberg Thorsen stated, “No one else is close. For the first time, we have a fossil-fuel market share below 50 percent.”
Some of the best-selling EV models in Norway are Volkswagen Golf, BMWi3, Toyota Rav4 and Tesla Model X. At present, the Norwegian government offers an array of tax exemptions and grants on electric cars, including free or subsidised parking, battery recharging, use of toll roads and tunnels, among others.
The country is also trying to shift to 100% zero-emission cars by 2025. In 2017, sales of zero-emission cars in Norway reportedly surged to 21% form 16 in the year prior to that. According to Christina Bu, Head of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, to be able to achieve this goal by 2025, the government will have to keep promoting EVs through incentives and tax benefits. She added, “It’s an ambitious goal only seven years away.”
While the electric vehicles market remains a lucrative destination for corporates and startups in India, there are quite a few challenges that need to be overcome to make EVs ready for mass adoption. A robust battery production ecosystem is essential to be able to achieve 100% electric vehicles by 2030. Additionally, the government has to facilitate the development of a well-connected network of charging stations across the country. For faster adoption of EVs, the government will also have to offer tax rebates and subsidies to prospective car owners. If successful, the shift to shared, electric and connected mobility could potentially help India save up to $300 Bn (INR 20 Lakh Cr) in oil imports and nearly 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, as per a recent report by FICCI and Rocky Mountain Institute.
Until then, stay tuned for the next edition of our weekly series of Electric Vehicles Roundup!