Views of Anil Srivastava: Initiatives to promote adoption of electric vehicles

Initiatives to promote adoption of electric vehicles

The government has set yet another ambitious target to increase the sales of electric vehicles (EVs) to 30 per cent by 2030. In the past few years, the government has taken several measures such as extension of the tenure of Phase I of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles [FAME] India scheme, launch of the National E-Mobility Programme, and reduction in the goods and services tax (GST) on lithium-ion batteries, to maintain the growth momentum in the e-mobility segment. At a recent India Infrastructure conference, Anil Srivastava, Adviser, Transport and Director General, Development, Monitoring and Evaluation Office, NITI Aayog, shared his views on the adoption of EVs in India and recent government initiatives and plans and highlighted the need to enhance the uptake of EVs…

Vehicular pollution is a prime contributor to the alarming levels of air pollution in the country. All levels of government and industry need to simultaneously tackle both traffic congestion and the high pollution levels. To this end, a crucial initiative towards abating pollution is encouraging the use of EVs, which offer many advantages such as lower levels of  air and noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2014, India became a member of the Electric Vehicles Initiative, a multi-government policy forum committed to speeding up the deployment of EVs. The EV@30 global campaign was launched in 2017 with the ambitious goal to increase the contribution of EVs in total vehicle sales to 30 per cent by the year 2030.

In the past few years, the government has undertaken several initiatives to increase EV penetration. NITI Aayog is working with various government departments, ministries and state governments to formulate favourable policies, regulations and incentives for promoting EVs.

The government’s most recent step was the extension of Phase I of the FAME India scheme till March 31, 2019. The government has also delayed the launch of FAME Phase II, a five-year programme involving an investment of $784 million. FAME II is much broader in scope than FAME I, which was essentially a pilot project. Prior to this, in March 2018, the government launched the National E-Mobility Programme with the aim of providing an impetus to the entire e-mobility ecosystem.

In another move, GST on lithium-ion batteries has been reduced from 28 per cent to 18 per cent. Further, the draft National Auto Policy, 2018, seeking to promote clean and safe mobility and develop a long-term roadmap to harmonise domestic emission standards with global benchmarks by 2028, is also expected to be out soon.

In January 2019, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) issued new guidelines for EV charging infrastructure. Under these guidelines, residential and commercial complexes are required to leave 20 per cent of their parking space for charging facilities. Further, the guidelines necessitate the installation of one charging station every 3 km in cities and every 25 km on both sides of highways.

In December 2018, the Ministry of Power notified the guidelines and standards for the development of EV charging infrastructure in the country. As per the guidelines, discoms will facilitate the setting up of private charging stations at offices and residences. Meanwhile, the option of converting existing petrol and diesel outlets to charging stations is also being explored by the government.

States too are gearing up for the uptake of EVs as a means of mainstream mobility. A few states have formulated state-specific policies to encourage EV adoption. Karnataka was the first to launch a comprehensive EV policy in September 2017, followed by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Recently, in November 2018, the Delhi government released the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy, 2018.

Due to the nascent stage of the EV market, there are many uncertainties regarding permits for land and power which makes setting up of charging infrastructure quite difficult and time consuming. At present, charging infrastructure is almost absent in the country. Only a few companies are engaged in battery cell manufacturing. To step up indigenous production of battery cells, the Indian Space Research Organisation shortlisted 15 companies to transfer the manufacturing technology for lithium-ion batteries for EVs. There is also a surge in interest from domestic and global players to manufacture batteries domestically given the government’s thrust on e-mobility.

Future path

In order to realise the government’s target of 30 per cent EV penetration by 2030, there is an urgent need to develop and adopt innovative models apart from the capital expenditure model. Indigenous manufacturing of batteries and cells should also be considered. Further, there is a need for speeding up the process of converting all two-wheelers and three-wheelers into cleaner energy vehicles.

That said, the EV and charging infrastructure segments in India are maturing gradually. A lot of recent activity has taken place to support the planned EV growth. Going forward, India has the potential to emerge as the country with the largest stock of EVs and also the best destination to have shared and integrated mobility.