Adoption of EVs: Challenges and Solutions – Explained, pointwise

For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE


The Government is pushing hard for transition to Green Economy. One vital aspect of this transition is transition to Green Mobility. Enhancing the share of Electric Vehicles in transportation is necessary to ensure green mobility. The finding of Lithium deposits in J&K and possibility of developing domestic battery manufacturing ecosystem in India has led to new excitement about EVs. However, the adoption of EVs still faces several hurdles. Addressing these challenges is necessary to ensure greening and decarbonisation of the transportation sector.

What are EVs and their benefits?

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have an electric motor instead of an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). ICE-based vehicles work on fossil fuels. EVs use a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor. The power to run the vehicle is provided by the motor (instead of fuel-engine in ICE vehicles). Because an EV runs on electricity, the vehicle emits no exhaust from a tailpipe. An EV does not contain the typical liquid fuel components, such as a fuel pump, fuel line, or fuel tank.

Electric Vehicles Adoption of EVs UPSC

Components of EVs

Source: Department of Energy, US

Benefits of EVs

Lower running costs: The running cost of an electric vehicle is much lower than an equivalent ICE vehicle. Electric vehicles use electricity to charge their batteries instead of using fossil fuels like petrol or diesel. EVs are more efficient, according to one estimate, EVs can convert ~60% of the electrical energy from the grid to power the wheels, but petrol or diesel cars can only convert 17%-21% of the energy stored in the fuel to the wheels. The efficiency combined with the electricity cost means that charging an EV is is cheaper than fuel based vehicles.

Low Maintenance Cost: EVs have very low maintenance costs because they have lesser moving components compared to ICE vehicles (e.g., Electric vehicles don’t have gears and there are no complicated controls). The servicing requirements for EVs are lesser than the conventional petrol or diesel vehicles. Therefore, the yearly cost of running an electric vehicle is significantly low.

Zero Tailpipe Emissions: EVs can help reduce carbon footprint because they have zero tailpipe emissions (carbon-dioxide emissions through combustion of fossil fuels). This can reduce air pollution as well as slow down the pace of global warming. EVs are thus essential for greening of transportation sector. Even if emissions from the production of electricity (like thermal power plant) are taken into account, petrol or diesel vehicles emit almost 3 times more carbon dioxide than the average EV.

Noise Pollution: Electric Motors function silently, and produce much less noise compared to IC Engines. This can address noise pollution in urban areas or near highways.

What are the challenges to adoption of EVs?

Lack of Infrastructure: At present, charging stations comprising of both slow and fast charging capabilities are available for all kinds of vehicles in the market. However, the number of the charging stations is inadequate. This implies their availability is restricted and even the ones that are deployed do not function optimally. Hence, the lack of charging infrastructure is a major hindrance to the adoption of EVs at scale.

Performance: The EV manufacturers have been unable to implement the practicality of EVs being ‘value for money’ for consumers. The original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) are not developing EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). As a result, the companies that are into EVSE are unsure about the types of EVs , charging technology and its time of launch. This uncertainty does not allow the EVSE OEMs to do long term planning.

Range Anxiety: It refers to an EV owner’s fear that the vehicle’s battery does not have sufficient charge for it to reach the destination. It is linked to how far the EV can travel on a single battery charge and the availability of charging points. This is a consequence of limited infrastructure and duration of battery charge.

Long time for Charging Batteries: The battery charging time is much longer than the time taken for refuelling the ICE vehicles. Fast charging can result in overheating of batteries, hence it is avoided. This reduces the acceptability of EVs.

Financial Constraints: The initial cost of owning an electric car is currently higher than that of ICE vehicles mainly due to the cost of the battery. Manufacturers anticipate cost parity by 2025 – if not sooner.They are collaborating with the electric car battery production supply chain to lower costs and improve overall efficiency. Apart from this, limited credit options and high EMI make it tough for the EV Sector to operate.

Battery Technology: One of the most significant barriers to EV adoption is the battery manufacturing process and supply chain. To enable EVs, new mining and supply networks are required. The lithium-ion battery is the most common and frequently utilised EV energy source. India has no manufacturing capacity for Lithium-ion cells and relies completely on imports of EV batteries. This also increases costs.

Challenges to Adoption of EVs

What are the possible solutions to increase adoption of EVs?

First, the range anxiety problem can be addressed by increased battery efficiency and expansion of charging points. Battery efficiency can be improved by further research, and expansion of charging points need greater investments.

Second, Battery swapping can also tackle range anxiety. And it could be very efficient, especially for certain types of EVs and in certain geographies. In battery swapping, the discharged battery can be replaced by a charged battery. This will cut down the waiting time required in charging the battery.

Read More: Battery Swapping Policy: Provisions, Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise

Third, Because of the lengthy charging time, chargers must be placed in regions where people may leave their automobiles for extended periods of time. This needs a reconsideration of the charging geography. Setting up charging stations nearer to offices, commercial complexes can play a key role.

Fourth, To raise the overall reliability and quality of their products, there is a need to prioritise the domestic production of key components for batteries. The country’s reliance on imports of these components may have an impact on India’s international trade policies or EV objectives.

Fifth, The Government must promote private investment in battery manufacturing plants and achieve economies of scale, while also focusing on the newer technologies.

Sixth, Stabilizing the policy environment by focusing on tax breaks and non-fiscal incentives might assist to alleviate demand uncertainty, allowing the business to reach economies of scale

Seventh, Using renewable energy sources can make the use of electric vehicles more eco-friendly. The electricity cost can be reduced further if charging is done with the help of renewable energy sources installed at home, such as solar panels.

Syllabus: GS III, Environment, Conservation.

Source: Mint, WEF, NITI Aayog, Business Standard

Print Friendly and PDF