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Electric Vehicles in India: Opportunities & Challenges

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Electric Vehicles in India: Opportunities & Challenges

India is witnessing a rapid shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) in recent years due to increasing awareness of the harmful effects of fossil fuels on the environment, government initiatives to promote EV adoption, and the reduction in the cost of EV components. The Indian government has also set a target of having 30 percent of all vehicles electric by 2030. However, like any major shift, there are both opportunities and challenges with EV adoption in India.

On this note, mojo4industry conducted a Development Debate on “EVs in India: Opportunities & Challenges”. Industry experts have shared their opinion on the Indian EV ecosystem, and what challenges & opportunities lie ahead. They have also deliberated and debated on what they can learn from other countries.

While talking about India’s preparedness for the EV revolution, Abhijeet Sinha, National Program Director, Ease of Doing Business | Project Director – National Highways for EV, DIISHA, Drone Pilot | President – CPOs of India said, “India’s transition towards e-mobility has been an ongoing process. As early as 2011, during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure, a charging station was inaugurated. However, this station is no longer operational due to its failure. Over a decade, from 2011 to 2022, electric mobility has involved comparisons between electric cars and their diesel or petrol counterparts. Nevertheless, the underlying issue was not with the cars themselves but the infrastructure supporting them. Many individuals erroneously made false equivalences, failing to achieve the expected results and attributing the problem to the infrastructure rather than the vehicles. Instead of comparing one vehicle to another, it would have been more appropriate to compare a charging station to a traditional fueling station. This would have included economic factors, technical aspects, financing considerations, utilization, return on investment (ROI), asset management, and various sources of revenue. This comparison would have encompassed technical specifications, standards, ease of doing business, and the challenges involved.”

Commenting further, Abhijeet added, “Another crucial point to highlight is the significant savings associated with electric vehicles. Individuals who choose electric vehicles or switch from petrol or diesel vehicles experience substantial financial benefits. For instance, if a household currently relies on grid power but transitions to solar panels with energy storage, it is essential to understand the cost savings and investment requirements involved. Unfortunately, we have been unable to provide clear information regarding these aspects to fleet operators, individual consumers, or those considering a shift to electric vehicles.”

While discussing her views on EV adoption, Dr. Rashi Gupta, Founder & Managing Director, Vision Mechatronics, said, “I think we’re at the beginning of the curve. We find ourselves in the early stages of a transformative journey. This advantageous position allows us to observe and learn from others’ experiences, avoiding unnecessary mistakes. By minimizing errors, we increase our chances of success. Currently, our nation is in a highly positive technological phase. However, we must get rid of the ‘Chalta hai’ attitude, as this mindset hinders progress. Once we shed this mentality completely, we will enter a phase of profound transformation over the next three years.”

She adds, “The global energy landscape is undergoing a significant shift, with the focus shifting from the West to the East. This shift will bring a momentous transformation, not only in the energy sector but also in EVs. India, with its abundance of intellectual capital and advanced technology, is poised to contribute substantially to this global transition. To fully harness this potential, we must develop unwavering confidence in this technology and embrace its adoption. It is important to recognize that a chicken-and-egg loop exists: waiting for costs to decrease before adoption hampers economies of scale, and economies of scale are only achieved through proactive adoption. Therefore, we must break this cycle and firmly believe that this technology represents the future we all desire.”

Talking about the kind of traction happening in technology adoption for EVs, Manoj K S, Head of Business Development – IQS Portfolio, ZEISS Industrial Metrology, said, “Allow me to address this question from our company’s perspective. As an instrumentation company catering to the entire value chain, from raw materials to the automotive sector encompassing cars and two-wheelers, we have witnessed remarkable massive growth in the EV industry. Notably, the two-wheeler segment has experienced significant sales, with hundreds of thousands of vehicles sold. Several prominent companies in the industry have become our valued customers.”

Manoj further added, “We have observed extensive research and development activities worldwide, spanning from the raw material stage to electrode and cell manufacturing. In India, there is a considerable focus on battery technology R&D. When we consider the entire ecosystem, including battery manufacturers, battery management systems (BMS), and two-wheeler manufacturers, we observe a seamless flow of progress and innovation.”

Talking further about policies, Manoj said, “However, it is important to acknowledge that policy consistency has been a challenge. While some targets have not been met, the overarching principle of a substantial shift toward electric vehicles remains intact. The goal of achieving 70 percent electrification in two-wheelers, 30 percent in private cars, 70 percent in commercial vehicles, and 80 percent in two-wheeler sales is a clear indication of the direction we are heading. It is worth noting that India has a remarkable capacity for rapid transformation, as exemplified by the swift transition from landlines to mobile phones. This suggests that a similar trajectory can be expected in the electric vehicle space.”

While discussing his views, Rajendra Thombre, Chief Technology Officer, Dhoot Transmission, said, “The journey towards electric mobility in India can be traced back to the initiation of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan in 2013, which set the target of 30 percent EV adoption by 2030. It is essential to emphasize that the progress made thus far has not encountered any significant setbacks. We find ourselves on a metaphorical highway, where the speed at which we travel toward our destination is within our control. However, adequate charging infrastructure must be developed alongside this highway to support electric vehicles seamlessly.”

Thombre further added, “The government has taken proactive steps to address various aspects of the electric mobility ecosystem. Initiatives such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) program have been introduced to tackle critical issues related to charging infrastructure, battery disposal, and recycling. The government continues to actively work on these initiatives and remains committed to electric mobility advancement in the country.”

While discussing his views on what India can learn from other countries, Abhijeet said, “India is currently positioned at a stage of significant economic potential, and it is essential for all stakeholders to acknowledge this before engaging with the country. The younger generation, born after 2000, exhibits a high level of impatience and demands convenience in obtaining essential documents such as passports, driving licenses, and PAN cards. This is all at their doorstep. This generation expects transparency, accountability, and precision, and technology plays a pivotal role in meeting these expectations. The advent of this technology necessitates a different approach to procurement processes, rendering the traditional L1 and L2 frameworks obsolete.”

He further states, “To effectively procure emerging technologies, there is a singular solution: embrace and harness technology. Particularly, technology in electric mobility will revolutionize transportation from point A to point B. This will redefine charging infrastructure and cost calculations for passengers and cargo. Similar to the concept of using metro trains without individual ownership, the future will witness a transition where individuals can travel from one location to another without owning a personal vehicle. This evolving expectation will continue to grow and soon demand attention. Industries prepared to embrace this change can forge ahead, while those unprepared should brainstorm comprehensively. The market eagerly awaits those ready to meet these expectations.”

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