E-vehicles in India

E-Vehicles in India

Electric vehicles are a key technology to reduce air pollution in densely populated areas and a promising option to contribute to energy diversification.

E-Vehicles in India

Electric vehicles are a key technology to reduce air pollution in densely populated areas and a promising option to contribute to energy diversification.

Jasmine Sultana

November 9, 2020

Electric vehicle benefits include zero emissions, better efficiency than internal combustion engine vehicles and large potential for greenhouse gas emissions reduction when coupled with a low-carbon electricity sector. These objectives are major drivers behind the country's [India] policy support in the development and deployment of electric power trains for transport. [53] 

As per the IEA report of 2009, fossil fuel-based transportation is the second-largest source of CO2 emissions globally. From 2006 to 2030, global energy consumption is likely to rise by 53% and about three-quarters of the projected increase in oil demand will come from transportation. [53] The Indian Government had decided to launch the National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM) in 2013. The adoption of the mission mode approach is intended to provide this initiative with the desired high level of ownership (both in Government and the Industry), continued government intervention/support, continued longterm commitment from all stakeholders and a synergised - holistic approach to the complex issues involved with the program. [56][57]

The potential roadmap for hybridisation/electrification.

A part of NEMP is the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles) was launched by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in 2015 to incentivise the production and promotion of Eco-friendly vehicles including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. The focus areas under the FAME are technology development, demand creation, pilot projects and charging infrastructure. [58][59]

Electric vehicle industry in India

There are a wide variety of transportation modes that co-exist on Indian roads. Public transportation is leading the way for mainstreaming of e-mobility. E-rickshaws are mushrooming as public transport in Indian cities due to lower cost of operation and economical fares. Delhi [35] alone is believed to have almost a lakh e-rickshaws plying its roads, while Kolkata will see an upgrade [36] from totos toe-rickshaws soon. The recent jump [37] in electric vehicle sales also point to a rising preference for private electric vehicles. [25] Apart from electric bicycles, scooter and motorcycle, the vehicles listed below gain more popularity.

E-Rickshaws: They are being widely accepted as an alternative to petrol/diesel/CNG auto-rickshaws. They are 3-wheelers pulled by an electric motor ranging from 650-1400 Watts.      

E-Vans: Under the category of light Cargo Vehicles. [20]

E-Bus: India's first electric bus was launched in Bengaluru in 2014. The first inter-city bus service, from Mumbai to Pune, was launched in 2019. In October 2016, Ashok Leyland launched the first 100% India-made electric bus. The series has been named Circuit, and it can carry 35 to 65 persons at a time. [21]

Ashok Leyland's Circuit

E-Trucks: India's first all-electric heavy-duty 60-tonne truck by Infra prime Logistics (IPLT) [68] is already in operation. It uses four major computer systems – Motor control, Transmission, Battery management, and Battery charging system. This is also the first electric vehicle in India to feature an automatic transmission for a two-speed operation. [22]

E-Cars: According to industry body Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV),  EV sales,excluding e-rickshaws, grew by 20 per cent in India in 2019-20. As many as156,000 EVs were sold in the country in 2019-20 as against 130,000 units in the previous fiscal. This figure does not include e-rickshaws, which is still largely with the unorganised sector with a reported sale of around 90,000 units. The corresponding figures of the e-ricks sold in the previous year have not been documented. Electric two-wheelers accounted for nearly 97.5 per cent of all EVs sold in FY20 [55].

The share of E-Rickshaw production is estimated to grow even further.

The break-up of EV sales in India in 2019-20:

- 152,000 electric two-wheelers

- 3,400 electric cars

- 600 electric buses


With battery prices reportedly[23] falling 73% since 2010, electric cars are expected to be as cheap as fuel-powered cars in the future. The International Energy Agency cites [24] that by 2020 up to 20 million electric vehicles will ply the roads. This number is expected to go up to 70 million by 2025. Under the Make In India programme, the manufacturing of e-vehicles and their associated components is expected to increase[26] the share of manufacturing in India's GDP to 25% by 2022. On the economic front, large-scale adoption of electric vehicles is projected to help save $60 billion [27] on oil imports by 2030. Currently, 82% of India's oil demand is fulfilled by imports.

Price of electricity, as fuel, could fall as low as Rs 1.1/km, helping an electric vehicle owner save [28] up to Rs. 20,000 for every 5,000km traversed. Finally, electrification will help reduce vehicular emissions, a key contributor to air pollution, which causes an average 3% GDP loss [29]every year. There has been a concerted policy push at the national level to promote e-mobility, especially with the ratification of the Paris climate agreement [30]. The Government of India has declared public charging stations and EV charging businesses as a de-licensed activity [40][41]. The government has laid down a policy that there should be at least one charging station in a grid of 3km x 3km in cities and one station every 25km on both sides of highways. This coverage is to be achieved in cities with a population of more than 4 million and all existing express-ways and important highways connected to these mega-cities by 2022.  

EV charging stations will also become more common.

The second phase (3-5 years) will cover big cities like state capitals and UT headquarters. [42] There have been initiatives to set up community charging stations, as in the case of Plugin India facilitated charging stations. [43] News reports have indicated about plans to provide solar-powered charging points at the existing fuel stations of the country.[44][45][46] There are companies like Tata Power, Fortum [65][66] and others which are engaged in the business of electric vehicle charging. They have already installed different varieties of chargers - rapid DC chargers and level 2 AC chargers for different kinds of applications - public access, workplace charging, fleet charging, residential communities, malls, highways etc. and have large plans to scale up. 

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 [31] and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) [31] scheme were both announced inaspiration of an electric-only future for automobiles by 2030. Besides, a lower GST rate (12%) [32] has been levied on electric vehicles compared to other categories.

A holistic e-mobility ecosystem comprises electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, e-mobility service providers (car sharing, rentals, etc.) and regulations. Ride-sharing company Ola recently announced 'Mission: Electric' [33], under which it aims to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2021. The draft National Auto Policy [34], released in February 2018, suggests friendly regulations and fiscal incentives to promote green mobility. It recommends defining a green mobility roadmap for India, which would include a national plan for the establishment of relevant public infrastructure.

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