The Indian government recently took another step in fulfilling its electric mobility dream when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a new scheme which will invite global companies to set up mega manufacturing plants which covers production of lithium storage batteries, and charging infrastructure.
But public transport is one of the key areas where electric vehicles (EVs) can really help cut carbon emissions and state governments along with civic bodies are also looking to get in on the action with the latest examples coming from Gurugram and Ahmedabad. Gurugram is planning to add 100 EVs for public transport, while Ahmedabad is planning to operate 300 EV public transport buses.
The Gurugram Metropolitan City Bus Limited (GMCBL) is planning to add about 100 electric minibuses in its fleet. The GMCBL had applied for electric buses under FAME India scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles in India) of the central government. The electric buses are expected to operate from a proposed depot located in Sector 48 on five routes, which are yet to be identified.
Under FAME II, the government has proposed to invest INR 10,000 Cr ($1.4 Bn) over three years to support 10 Lakh two-wheelers, 5 Lakh three-wheelers, 55K four-wheelers, and 7K buses that operate on lithium-ion batteries or other electric power-trains. It also added for deployment of 5K electric buses.
Multiple charging stations for the buses will be set up at the depot and two other hubs along the routes. There is a proposal to provide one slow-charging unit for every electric bus and one fast-charging station for 10 electric buses. Public sector units and private players will both invest in these stations. “We are sending a proposal for 100 electric buses under the scheme,” said GMCBL CEO Chandrashekhar Khare.
Ahmedabad’s EV Public Transport Initiative
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), which ran 12 electric buses called ‘Circuit’ for the last few months, is now in the process of preparing an expression of interest (EOI) document for bidders interested in operating 300 electric buses in Ahmedabad.
Senior officers in the civic body to pointed towards the FAME India Scheme as the key driver for the project. “The methodology will also involve inspections at the chassis and prototype stages, where the bus maker-cum-operator will have to compete,” said a senior AMC official.
The official also added that the department of heavy industry (DHI) had invited EOI for availing of incentives under Fame-II, to deploy 5K electric buses on an operational-cost-model basis.
Meanwhile, other state governments across India are also rolling out their initiatives for EVs for public transport. Andhra Pradesh’s Transport and Information and Public Relations ministry has announced that close to 350 electric buses are set to be deployed in five major cities of under an INR 746 Cr project.
The Delhi government is inducting 1,000 electric buses for the state while Delhi Transport Corporation is in the process to procure another 1,000 EVs for public transport. The Jammu and Kashmir government too has decided to deploy electric buses in Srinagar while Kerala aims to introduce 1 million electric vehicles by 2022.
The Indian government is trying to set an example in EVs for public transport the same way as it has done for its other flagship initiatives, but costs remain very high and charging infrastructure is being built from scratch.
But in terms of sending a message, the government is putting a show. As many as 15 EV charging stations are said to be installed at the parking space of the Prime Minister’s office, which reportedly has the maximum number of EV charging stations among all government ministries and departments. Closely followed by the government think-tank NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Finance, who both have 10 charging stations each.