While presenting the Union Budget 2022 earlier this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that a new policy for battery swapping will be introduced to encourage the use of electric vehicles. She had also mentioned that the government will step up initiatives to boost EV infrastructure and EV ecosystem to achieve broader decarbonisation goals.
So, as the central government is trying its best to create an enabling environment for EVs, state government are also doing their bit. The intention is clear--India wants to go the EV way but creating the right infrastructure, strong legislative framework and a policy that is flexible to the changing ecosystem of EVs will definitely take it own time. Meanwhile, the beginning seems to be robust in outlook.
FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) policy in 2015 and FAME II policy in 2019 are clear indication of the government's desire to pave way for EVs. Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana are upbeat about the concept.
But the challenges are many.
Manufacturers still being in the learning curve, EV and battery cost, poor infrastructure, Indian climate, servicing industry still in nascent stage, lack of standardisation in the charging ecosystem, increased demand of electricity and environment concerns, among many others are staring deep at the promising sector.
While the policies, be it central or state, considers many of these challenges, let us accpet one fact. The transformation is indeed complex. Nobody has enough clarity as yet. We are still a few years down the line from the time when electric power transmission was first put to mass usage some time in late 19th century.
According to a Deloitte survey, 'EVs have been around since the earliest days of the automotive industry. In recent years, however, as the price of oil has risen steadily and concerns about the environment have increased, interest in EVs has intensified. This interest is coming from a number of sources, including government and industry. Policymakers, automotive executives, and electric utility industry executives are each, in their own way, trying to understand when and where consumers are most likely to adopt EVs and exactly how many may be on the road next year, five years from now, or 10 years or longer from now.'
The survey goes on to state: 'As they work together, and apart, in this complicated dance toward the next generation of personal mobility, with profound implications for all parties, it still comes down to the consumer. It is the consumer, looking for a less-expensive, greener transportation alternative with all the performance qualities of a traditional car, whose interest is the most intriguing and perhaps the most complicated. It is the consumer, after all, who will tell manufacturers how close they are to creating a vehicle that has a chance to achieve mass popularity in the marketplace.'
India's drive to make EVs a reality on the roads is worthy of appreciation, but the road to that day is yet to be laid.