This is the first consultative meeting they have had. Just a little while ago they have said they will do it in five years without any consultation with the industry.
In terms of sale, the Indian two-wheeler industry is 20 million, which is larger than any other country. We export 3 million vehicles and employ a million people directly and indirectly through our supply chain. This is an industry that has helped to build India’s competence, capability and reputation
We realise that the world is moving towards electric and lower and lower emission norms. We have complied with BSVI which is the tightest emission norm for two-wheelers and we have consistently kept pace with demands of society and government. Now if you want to change such a large industry which is globally competitive and naturally important, then from one technology to another there has to be a planned migration path. The plan ostensibly is a reduction in pollution and a reduction in dependence on oil.
If you take an electric two-wheeler, it costs at least 75 percent more than a petrol two-wheeler. It runs on lithium ion batteries which are expensive and are 100 percent imported. In such a case which customer is going to pay Rs 65,000 for a vehicle today and Rs 1,20,000 for the same vehicle tomorrow? No saving in energy can compensate for that difference in price.
Lithium is a commodity which is really the monopoly of China. Lithium is a limited commodity and with a western pressure to also move to electric, lithium batteries are in short supply. I don’t see in the next ten years lithium prices coming down to a competitive level. Therefore we also need to calibrate with that so that customers can also afford to pay for it
If you take from well to the wheel then electric is not greener than petrol. So what are we trying to achieve?
To me, this is a knee jerk reaction and it is not thought through and very superficial analysis. The government needs to understand the country’s interest and it is only the country’s interest in terms of pollution, the balance of payments and economics that must determine it. You cannot do this overnight.
In two weeks’ time, we can study an industry for a million people and 15 million dollars in sales and give a road map - I don’t think that is feasible. We have said we will take four months and they said, "come back in two weeks." I really believe in the long term saner heads in the government will prevail.
The subsidy that you are offering in electric, if it is used to buy back the BSIII vehicles from the market and scrap them, you will find the pollution dropping immediately.
What we are saying as an industry is that you take most polluted cities and have a path by saying that by a particular time a certain percentage of those cities will be electric. Every manufacturer will say that if I sell 100 vehicles in Delhi then 40 must be electric and then progressively move to 100. Then you move from Delhi to the lesser polluted cities and gradually over time transition to electric.
We are being compared to people who make 50 and 500 vehicles a month whereas we are making 6000 and 10000 vehicles per day. I think it is grossly unfair.The current EV deadline will undermine Make in India and that cannot be the intention. It does not even achieve the emission and pollution standards or issues related to the balance of payment. So what are you trying to achieve? Do you want to subvert India’s most competitive industry?