Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari's announcement on Thursday that there would be no electric vehicle policy has not been without reason.
The larger alternative fuel policy being drafted by the NITI Aayog is likely to cover electric vehicles (EVs) as an unconventional and cleaner mode of transportation. Besides, the momentum in EV growth will come from the push available for public transport and voluntary move towards EVs under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India (FAME) scheme, offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles.
On Thursday, Gadkari had said there was no need for a separate EV policy as an action plan to encourage manufacturing and use of EVs had been put in place. NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant also said, “An action plan has been prepared. Each ministry has started implementing the action plan.”
The industry was fearing that EVs would be made mandatory by 2030 after statements were made by Gadkari and his Cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal. The UPA government had come up with a National Electric Mobility Plan-2020, under which FAME was launched. The first phase of FAME ends in March and the industry is hoping that incentives under it will be extended.
FAME offers incentives for automobiles and charging stations by way of direct subsidy. It was last year extended to launch a programme for electric public transport.
The lack of EV policy, however, might not be in the interest of the industry. “We feel a long-term policy is required so that the industry knows the road map,” said an automobile professional. He said the industry had already made headway in launching EV products at the recently concluded Auto Expo.
In an interview to Business Standard last week, Gadkari had said, “We want electric, ethanol, biodiesel, and methanol buses to ply in the country. It will help address the problem of air pollution affecting major cities. We want to adopt the Transport for London (TfL) model. Nine operators in London and the corporation bring out a tender on the basis of a per-km charge.”
Gadkari had emphasised that the government was not against the use of petrol and diesel cars but, at the same time, wanted to bring in new technology for sustainable transportation.
“Accelerated adoption of electric and shared vehicles can save $60 billion in diesel and petrol costs, while cutting down as much as 1 gigatonne of carbon emissions by 2030,” government think tank NITI Aayog has said in a joint report with the Rocky Mountain Institute.
In 2015, the Centre launched FAME to spur purchase and usage of electric vehicles. The Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) had launched it to promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicles in India. FAME was earlier focused on electric two-wheelers, electric cars and hybrid vehicles but now also includes electric buses.
While companies like ABB, Chargepoint, Exicom and Fortum are providing technology for charging stations, EVs like Hero Eco’s Photon Lithium bikes, Okinawa’s Praise and Ridge scooters, Lohia’s Oma Star Li two-wheeler and Comfort Plus e-rikshaw, Shigan’s Green Rick Super (Passenger) & Green Cart (Garbage loader) have already been developed. Then there are Hyundai Ioniq, the Mahindra eVerito, the Nissan Leaf, the E Tigor, Magic EV, Iris EV and Electric bus by Tata Motors.
Bulk procurement of EVs through Energy Efficiency Services Ltd would also help in bringing volumes and reduce the cost of vehicles. Kant, for instance, announced that the NITI Aayog would convert all of its fleet to EVs over four months. “We will push adoption across all segments, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers and buses. NITI Aayog, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Power and the Department of Heavy Industries will come together to bring about a revolution to support the PM’s initiative of using Technology for Make-in-India,” he added.