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India targets only electric vehicles by 2030

Context:

  • India wants only electric vehicles to run on its roads by 2030, but it’s a path riddled with challenges.

Background:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and erstwhile Energy Minister Piyush Goyal have discussed about the target to achieve an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030.
  • This initiative comes in line with the ongoing global push away from the internal combustion engine.
  • The Government also notified the scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME), as a part of its National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.

What progress has been made so far to achieve an all-electric-fleet of vehicles by 2030?

The progress made so far by different departments and ministries to achieve an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030 are as follows:

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a government firm, has put in motion plans to procure 10,000 e-vehicles.
  • EESL aims to lease these vehicles out to government departments so as to replace their existing fleets of petrol and diesel vehicles.
  • The Centre has begun pilot projects in this regard, having already installed 25 charging stations in Bengaluru, and planning to expand this to other metros.
  • Fortum India inaugurated a 22 KW AC charger on a pilot basis in Delhi, and the company said it was looking to install up to 160 charging stations over a year in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
  • The parent company Fortum Oyj also signed an agreement with government-owned NBCC (India) to bring cloud-based back-end infrastructure for electric vehicles to India.
  • Reliance Energy is working on a third-party business model to provide charging station facilities for electric two-wheelers and four-wheelers in public places, parking plazas near highways, and offices and malls.

How important is it for the nation to shift to an all-electric-fleet of vehicles by 2030?

There is an array of benefits if the nation shifts from petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles. Some of them are as follows:

Reduce India’s oil dependency:

  • The shift from petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles will reduce India’s dependence on oil and the cost of import.

Strengthen the rupee:

  • It will strengthen the rupee and the current account deficit would disappear.

Address the issues of climate change:

  • The air will be cleaner and will be an end-to-end solution to address the issues of climate change.

Job creation:

  • The Government will help establish charging stations to start with and later through franchisee model, create jobs for lakhs of entrepreneurs to establish charging stations across the country.

Cheaper in price:

  • The electric vehicles will be cheaper and the operating costs will also reduce, which will be an economic incentive for the public to buy the same.

What are the challenges in achieving the all-electric-fleet of vehicles by 2030 mission?

The challenges in achieving the all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030 mission are as follows:

Very few global carmakers:

  • A very few global carmakers have brought their electric variants into India.

Distinction between Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles’ tax regime:

  • The fact that the government has also made a distinction between EVs and hybrid vehicles under the GST regime is seen as a problem.

People are still skeptical about charge duration:

  • The view among carmakers is that people are still skeptical about the shift to all-electric vehicles since they fear the charge duration of the batteries.

Battery technology:

  • Battery technology is yet another aspect that needs to be looked into.

Capacity of battery cells has not changed:

  • While the cost of batteries has fallen over the years — a Bank of America Merill Lynch report found the cost of battery cells fell 48% between 2011 and 2015 but their capacity has not changed as drastically.

Sheer shift is not efficient address the impact on the environment:

  • Yet another issue is that simply shifting the fleet to electric will not address the impact on the environment.
  • This has to be accompanied with an even swifter change in the energy mix to renewable sources.

Some related terminology:

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020:

  • Government of India launched the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 in 2013.
  • It aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country.
  • There is an ambitious target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.

Hybrid vehicle:

  • A vehicle is a hybrid if it utilizes more than one form of onboard energy to achieve propulsion.
  • In practice, that means a hybrid will have a traditional internal-combustion engine and a fuel tank, as well as one or more electric motors and a battery pack.

Electric vehicles:

  • An electric vehicle, also called an electric drive vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion.
  • An electric vehicle may be powered through a collector system by electricity from off-vehicle sources, or may be self-contained with a battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity. 
  • EVs include road and rail vehicles, surface and underwater vessels, electric aircraft and electric spacecraft.

Conclusion:

  • Achieving the target of all-electric vehicles by 2030 will need a substantial push from the government and the private sector in terms of setting up the charging infrastructure, enabling cheaper availability of raw materials and incentivising mid-way measures such as hybrid vehicles.
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