The future of mobility relies heavily on the development of resources that are much easier on the environment and are abundant in supply. With every second passing by, we are rapidly exhausting the limited resources that have conventionally powered mobility solutions. It is high time that we need to look beyond conventionally used petrol and diesel fuels and shift our focus on cleaner resources like electricity.
In addition to being clean, electricity is also the most easily manageable power source once we look beyond conventional fuel sources. It is easier said than done, there exist tonnes of real-world problems that need to be addressed before we can start working actively towards the goal of electrification of traffic.
Through this article we intend to discuss some of the prominent problems, that we as a country are facing and also how important role will the government have to play in achieving the same-
India’s EV Challenges –
Though there are several problems a developing country like India needs to overcome on its journey to complete electrification of transportation. We are highlighting some of the most obvious ones which also remain to be the biggest barriers in our path.
The Indian markets are highly competitive. With a population of over 1.3 billion and new users forming a strong demand base, the opportunities in India are immense. The youngest among the biggest countries in the world, Indian markets are going to be the new economic battlezone. At the same time, it is a real challenge for brands to make their marks among these new consumers. The Indian consumer base is highly informed, very cautious, and cost-sensitive.
All the major EV contenders in the Indian market hit way above the perception. Brands cannot be entirely blamed for this. Mahindra and Tata have tried to make their EVs accessible to an average customer but they fell pale when compared to other products in the same price category. In the western markets, Tesla deserves compliments for making products that actually gave a tough choice to Fuel Ignition options in the same price segment. That has not been the case with Indian markets. MG ZS-EV and Hyundai Kona Electric do seem like honest attempts but there is a long way to EVs making their mark in the mainstream.
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A movement to Electric mobilization is highly dependent on the development of strong EV-supporting Infrastructure in India. The vehicles which are currently available in the market make sense only for Urban commutes because of a glaring lack of EV charging facilities across the country. The support structure for Electric mobilization is skeletal at best, even in the urban setting. The expectation of development from the home charging setups seems wrongly placed considering the existing options are far from practical implementation and way too expensive.
The after-sales support from the brands is not very reliable and not much can be expected in terms of availability of equipment and skilled professionals who specialize in EVs. We cannot forget the role of independent mechanics and workers in the Indian Automobile market. And these workers are definitely not equipped with the knowledge, skills, or even resources to be able to work on electric drivetrains.
3. Market Size
The Indian market size is huge and it is characteristically colossal, chaotic, and corrupt. It is very difficult to implement any change in the market and it takes decades for the smallest changes to drip through. And here, we are talking about a complete makeover, with emphasis on the word complete in the truest sense. There is no revolution in today’s markets except for the declines and in a setting like India, the task is mammoth. Even Hybrid vehicles that form a bridge between the fuel ignition and electrical drivetrains have not quite found their spot. Though the question of the viability of hybrid cars is very debatable in the more advanced markets. India has not even reached the primary testing phase because of the higher prices. These sophisticated discussions seem far as of now.
Also Read – Top Electric Cars you can Buy in India
4. Market positioning
From the brand’s point of view, there is the difficulty in deciding the role, their Electric offering is going to play in the market. Mahindra tried hard and for a long to find a niche for e2o, which they were unsuccessful with. This was primarily because of the monetary positioning of the car. Tata has been hustling for some time now with electric variants of Nexon and Tigor and they’ve not really reached somewhere stable. The electric version of Nexon, a sub-compact SUV, competes against full-size fuel ignition SUVs, and then there is the hesitation arising from a lackluster system and meek recent future, which irrationalises the decision to opt for an EV.
From this arises the vicious cycle of the absence of customer’s interest which hurts the brand’s enthusiasm and ultimately, these products are sidelined when budget allocation and R&D are considered, all adding to the resentment of both producers and consumers.
5. Limited Research funds
Much of this has already been covered in the previous segments. A lack of serious research to come up with a viable electric offering is glaring in the face of electric mobilization in India. This cannot be attributed to one particular reason but all the smaller factors come in together and arise conditions which lead to stagnation and resentment towards a certain product or its category. The process of electric mobilization requires a lot of research and demand. The process of coming up with a worthy EV is highly intensive for a brand and it seems futile for the brands to put in all the effort only for the vehicle to fail because of the lackluster infrastructure. The companies thus distance themselves from the risk involved in EV development.
Solutions to tackle these challenges
There are a host of different obstructions that India needs to overcome to achieve complete electrification of mobility solutions. For a developing country like India which is in a primitive stage, The most prominent ones include a self-sustained charging infrastructure and pricing model that can appeal to a large section of buyers. Once they are addressed properly, other problems discussed in the section above will be comparatively easier to face, as they are inter-related in one way or the other.
Though we are no experts, we do think that the government has an instrumental role to play. For all the discussion concerning the solutions to march towards electric sustainability, we think that boosting the manufacturing capabilities has a vital role to play in addition to favorable government policies.
1. Government Policy
It easily is the single largest factor capable of influencing India’s path towards complete electric sustainability. The fact that in terms of electric mobilization, we need to analyse the case study of EV world leaders like China, USA & UK.
Also Read – Kia Motors To Launch 7 New Electric Cars By 2027
2. Relaxed taxation
Taking the Netherlands for example, despite being the motherland to oil giant Shell, they have been taking continuous leaps towards achieving complete electric sustainability with their resolution of banning all the petrol and diesel cars by 2030. A lenient tax policy lies at the heart of the revolutionary electric policy. The Netherlands government provides a range of incentives to facilitate a boost to the volume of Electric Vehicles on Dutch roads. The taxation policy in the European country revolves around CO2 emissions, it essentially means that EVs are tax-free (owing to zero emissions) helping the buyers save hefty amounts of thousands of dollars on registration and road taxes, thus encouraging the buyers to opt for electric vehicles. Even the hybrid vehicle buyers get some respite in terms of tax relaxation, but they obviously have to shell out more in comparison to zero-emission EVs.
We don’t even need to look beyond India as far as tax exemptions are concerned, thanks to the Delhi government which is leading by example as far as electrification of traffic is concerned. Very recently, the Delhi government exempted battery electric vehicles from the road tax charges, which promises a boost. This move was only one clause of the comprehensive EV policy that the state government had proposed in August, it contains many other promising provisions towards achieving electric mobility sustainability in true terms.
So with the relaxed taxation, the problem of tackling the high prices of battery-operated vehicles can be addressed in a better manner.
3. Setting up charging infrastructure
If the high pricing of battery-operated vehicles is the most daunting problem on the buyer’s end, the capital investment required to set up a robust charging infrastructure is one of the biggest reason why the government has not really been able to encourage people to opt for electric cars over the conventional, IC engine counterparts. This is also the reason why countries like Norway (10.7% of traffic consists of plug-in vehicles in 2018) and the Netherlands (1.7% of traffic consists of plug-in vehicles in 2018) is steadily approaching electric sustainability.
Delhi government, with its latest proposed policy, has put up an interesting provision for the establishment of public charging infrastructure as the administration intends to set up 200 EV charging stations over the next year as a short-term goal. For the long-term planning, the government aims to provide easily accessible charging points within a 3 KM travel radius.
To encourage buyers, the Delhi government also included provisions of subsidized installation of private charging units. It remains to be seen if the Delhi government can deliver the goods but the provisions mentioned concerning charging infrastructure if implemented well can set up a brilliant example for other states to follow accordingly.
4. Boosting local manufacturing capabilities
While the government policies will have to play a very important role in kick-starting the revolution, for long term self-sustainability, the country would have to look beyond the imports and build a potent manufacturing network for the production of important components like batteries.
Local production of these important components will not only reduce the overall manufacturing cost of EVs (translating into increased demands) but also be advantageous as it will create employment opportunities. Having said that, it will not be easy and will definitely take its own good time before we will witness a manufacturing network that will be potent enough to sustain itself.