Electric Vehicles (EV) have been the buzz word for sometime now. Gone were the days, the only option you had was a Reva. Automobile companies are jumping into the EV wagon with both feet with more options for consumers than ever before.
The history of Electric Vehicles in India surprisingly dates back to 1994 when the Reva Electric Car Company, now known as Mahindra Electric Mobility Limited was founded and launched Reva which was an acronym for “Revolutionary Electric Vehicle Alternative” in 2001 in India. Things have changed over the past 25 years, and the relevance of EV adoption is far more significant now.
Why EVs now?
Considering the bigger picture, India has multiple strategic interests in adopting electric vehicles in addition to aligning with global interests in addition to the usual benefits people associate to when speaking about electric vehicles.
- Controlling the Carbon Emission
India is one of the biggest contributor to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions due to the huge population and the growth phase the country is in, but this comes at a huge environmental cost. A recent study shows that adoption of EVs could potentially reduce the carbon emission due to vehicles by upto 37% by 2030.
- Dependence on imported renewable fossil fuels
As everyone knows India is heavily dependent on imports mainly from Middle East for mobility fuel needs. This takes a huge toll on the finances of the country and also leaving it vulnerable to external factors such as wars, tariffs, currency fluctuations etc. Niti Ayog report shows that India can save upto 64% or intune of $60 billion on that front by EV adoption by 2030.
- India is becoming power surplus
India was expected to become power surplus by 2018-19, however is still running deficit by a small fraction. The fact is that the demand for power has not risen much despite the capacity addition and the per capita power consumption is low despite the low rates compared to global standards. This has stressed the power sector and a new demand in form of Electric Vehicles would be welcome from all sides.
The EV ecosystem is not perfect, at least in its current form. It’s shadowed by 2 major issues which needs immediate remedies, they are:
One of the primary and major concern for anyone considering for an electric vehicle is the vastly under developed charging infrastructure in India comparing to the 64,624 retail fuel outlets in the country. This number is without considering the additional 78,493 retail outlets advertised to be opened by three of the public sector oil marketing firms. Considering the fact that, even on a fast charging station the time required to fully charge most vehicles exceed the one hour mark is also a concern compared to the 5 minutes it takes at a fuel station.
However not every aspect seems very cloudy, The National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) will be a key player in the EV charging infrastructure, having applied for nationwide licensing, the company plans to roll out 1,00,000 EV Stations across the country. Other players like BHEL, Tata Power are also likely to enter the market which is currently dominated by small and unorganised players.
The adoption of Bharat Chargers (AC-001 & DC-001) under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India) for charging infrastructure in India would also help in consolidating the market efforts.
The table below shows the future market for EV charging in India and the numbers are definitely something to watchout for in the coming years.
Source: Indian EV Story: Emerging Opportunities
The technology is definitely pricey for the time being due to the fact that batteries are still very expensive even after price have fallen in recent years. As per a recent Bloomberg report, EV batteries still cost in the tune of $156/kWh. This makes the electric vehicle significantly pricier than their counterparts. The concern of recharge cycles and batteries loosing charging capacity over time is also a concern. With Tata Motors offering a warranty of 8 years or 1,60,000 km on its batteries is definitely an offer to watch out for and more companies investing in R&D leading to reduced cost, any efforts in this regard would definitely raise customer sentiments.
However, one area which Electric vehicles fare better is in its operations and maintenance cost. On average for a small hatchback segment car, the spendings on operations and maintenance is about one seventh that of its petrol or diesel counterpart. This is however exclusive of the potential cost of battery change after 8,9 years.
As an avid technology enthusiast, I do believe that the future of mobility is electric. But what is yet to be seen is the adoption rate. The lack of primary infrastructure is one problem that needs to be addressed soon. Also, though one uses EVs, the electricity used to power them still mostly comes from non-renewable sources such as thermal power plants which still contributes to pollution, a shift in that front to renewable power sources is to be realised along with this.
In my opinion, a couple of additional options would definitely make the adoption of electric vehicles sooner.
- Better decentralised solar power plants at individual residences with higher degree of efficiency as a support infrastructure for EV revolution.
- Option for solar credit facility, to redeem excess units passed on to the grid from one’s personal solar system at residence to use it for charging elsewhere through a seamless interface.
- With the technologies being developed at such fast pace, Wireless Charging is also something to watch out for in this segment with major players like Qualcomm already working on cordless wireless charging technology for electric vehicles.
India is a huge market and especially for something like electric mobility, the opportunity lies not only for private vehicles but also for public transport as already seen in some of the cities like Pune. With the right policies and frameworks, adoption of EVs should come as a natural and standard substitute for IC engine vehicles without having to worry about the current issues.
What do you think about the future of EVs and the current issues shadowing its adoption? Do let me know in the comments below.