India’s Electric Vehicles Conundrum

India has the world’s 4th largest auto market. Electric Vehicles are serious disruption to the present day ICE based auto industry. We are witnessing policy announcement favoring the Electric Mobility in the country but the naysayers are still seriously skeptical of the move due to lack of charging infra and high cost and weight of batteries. Leaving aside the Government’s push, the auto majors in India need to be convinced that Electric Vehicles(EVs) are the future of world mobility.

The twin challenges which are being faced by EV protagonists and planners alike all over the world are high battery cost and lack of easily accessible reliable charging infrastructure. If we talk of global level, the EV dream in the real sense has been led by Tesla. The world started believing in the dream from 2012 onward. However, as the twin challenges stated above, have remained broadly unaddressed, the EVs as a percentage of total vehicles sales have touched only about 2% in 2018.

Electric Vehicles India
Electric Vehicles India

Present day’s Tesla car has battery life of 300000 to 500000 running miles. The work is on to build batteries that can last up to 1 million miles. Cobalt and Lithium are two elements whose production has to significantly increase to address the EV demand likely to arise due to EV30@30. Presently, China is leading the global surge in EV adaptability and a march towards a world which will have 76% of total electric vehicle miles covered by 2050. What we are seeing today is a gradual transition to Electric Mobility. At a global level in the developed world, the changes takes place gradually over a much longer period of time. With that kind of gradual changes, one gets prepared to bear the brunt of resulting job losses and disappearance of an established ecosystem. But the evolving scenario in India may not be able to give the time needed to let one ecosystem, ICE based auto industry, fade out and the other, electric vehicles, to fade in.

Our country has witnessed the recent upheavals in power generation segment. The rise of solar and wind energy segment has brought about a rapid transformation in how the new power generation capacities are being added up. The old and conventional energy sources as fossil fuels based power plants are slowly vacating the space to the new clean energy segments. The speed and scale at which the renewable power is being added has led to old and conventional energy sources losing out the space to new gen cleantech. The pace at which this change is happening has sounded death knell to the coal based power plants. At the global level, such transformation is not that all of a sudden.

As the world takes definite steps towards electric mobility, India can not be left behind. India has taken definite steps towards embracing the electric mobility. However, the phasing out of ICE has to be well deliberated and has to be paced well. The EV to ICE parity is expected to come only by 2030. However, the ecosystem stabilization phase may take considerable time even thereafter.

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