The Indian government is urging automobile manufacturers to ramp up electric vehicle manufacturing. Motown captains are expanding their electric vehicle (EV) lineup with plans to set up fast-charging networks.
India's EV penetration as of today stands at 1.3 percent. That's a vast improvement from 2017 when India's EV penetration stood at only 0.4 percent of total vehicle registrations. India's EV story has not exactly taken off due to lack of awareness about cost benefits, inadequate number of charging stations, lack of fast-charging networks along highways, among other reasons.
If one compares India with the developed world, EV sales in China today account for 12 percent of its total car sales. EV penetration in Europe is nearly 15 percent. Even the United States has a 3 percent penetration rate. Will 2021 be remembered as the year when India's EV story really took off? To talk about India’s EV story and the outlook, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Anmol Jaggi, co-founder and CEO of Blu Smart; Mahesh Babu, CEO of Switch Mobility; Chetan Maini, co-founder & vice-Chairman of Sun Mobility; Nagesh Basavanhalli, Group CEO of Greaves Cotton, and Jasmine Shah, vice-Chairperson, The Dialogue & Development Commission of Delhi.
When asked if in 2021 India's EV growth story would really take off, Babu said the panelists who are here are doing a tremendous effort to put India on the EV global map as well as to make the EV day wonderful.
“I think we are talking about one person plus adoption today. While we started off with the meager 0.4 percent three years back, I think the important thing is it is in the right direction, you know that EVs actually come over the bump of COVID and adoption has actually accelerated." There are tremendous efforts taken by the government and industry and also even consumer awareness has substantially increased and then we are looking at scaling up from 2020 onwards. I would say 2021 is going to be even better then 2020 itself is a watershed moment when COVID came EV's adoption increased substantially.”
“So, EVs have weathered storm in auto industry and it is playing a progress. Substantial number of players have come in two-wheelers, we have proved in three-wheelers it is economically viable, we proved in four-wheelers fleet mobility, it is making sense in economic viability and large scale adoption in buses and LCVs are the ones which are taking place in India. I strongly believe buses our huge opportunity, particularly in the cities are to get converted to electric."
"And now we are looking at LCVs, last-mile mobility and mid-mile mobility segment where e-commerce is playing a vital role in converting to electric with all this happening. It's not easy. All right, say the auto industry itself. You need what I would say are tough leaders to run it. And EV is going to be further tough,” said Babu adding that India is having a huge opportunity.
"I am happy that everybody including the government, industry and consumers are thinking and it is in the right direction. So it's not going to be easy, but it's going to be a very satisfying journey if you look at five years down the line," he added.
The Biden administration has introduced a 50 percent electric vehicle target by 2030. The European Commission is targeting 60 percent EV sales by 2030 and the estimate is that Europe will reach 75 percent EV sales by 2030. Where do you think we are heading? How encouraged are you by the EV numbers that we see in Delhi?
Shah said it is a good opportunity to reflect on where we are on our own EV journey and as far as Delhi's experience is concerned, despite being a pandemic hit year. "We have just finished one year of the EV policy. We had notified it in August 2020 and in August 2021, we just finished one year."
“If you look at the numbers and the share of EVs, we just spoke about that nationally, it's barely touching one person. Delhi was at one percentage a year back and today, in the last year, the share of EVs and new vehicles has increased to 3.3 percent, which is almost a threefold jump after the introduction of Delhi EV policy," said Shah.
It is a good signal that the kinds of things that we are trying to do in Delhi are working, it's still early days, be it incentives, be it the massive awareness campaign that no other city or state in India has launched to popularise EVs, and it was called the Switch Delhi campaign. And subsequently, there's a lot of work that is also happening on charging infrastructure, promoting electric autos and stuff. But I must say that whatever happens in the coming months and years, the role of cities and states is going to be the most crucial, Shah added.
For the entire discussion, watch video