Government nudge needed to push electric mobility in India: SMEV

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 25 Feb 2016

Sohinder Gill, director, SMEV: "More and more manufacturers are launching mild hybrids, resulting in a false sense of achievement on the NEMMP policy.”

A nudge by the government is paramount to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in India and the upcoming Union budget 2016-17 would be an ideal vehicle to push electric mobility in the country, believes Sohinder Gill, director, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV).   

According to Gill, despite the government unveiling FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India) policy in the previous Union Budget 2015-16, the sale of electric vehicles has not picked up.

“To reduce India’s humungous fuel import dependency as well as to tackle the menace of vehicular pollution in our cities, the government needs to galvanize the eco-system for E-vehicles in the country. The Union budget 2016-17 can be an ideal exercise in this direction and built upon the momentum over the previous budget”, said Gill.

Hijacking of FAME incentives by ‘mild hybrids’

According to Gill, ‘mild hybrid’ vehicles have a marginal effect on emissions and crude oil consumption but being the easiest to implement they have taken away a large share of the FAME incentives.

“More and more manufacturers are soon launching mild hybrids, which has resulted in a false sense of achievement on two major objectives of the NEMMP policy that are major reduction in emissions and crude oil consumption,” said Gill.

Gill emphasised that pure electric vehicles are the real and complete answer to low emissions and reduced crude oil consumption and should have been given priority over hybrids.

He also highlighted that the efforts to promote pure electric vehicles seem to have taken a back seat and it is feared that the EV mission may be hijacked away from its prime objective.

“If we are serious in reducing pollution and crude oil consumption, government and industry must make all efforts to put at least 1 million electric vehicles on the road in a year’s time. This can be made possible by the following measures,” Gill added.

Action points identified by SMEV for this year’s budget:

-   Time has come to give a nudge to the customers to convert to EVs. Lakhs of two wheelers that are being used in commercial applications like deliveries of e-commerce purchases should be mandatorily converted onto electric bikes.

-   If London can levy a tax of 80 pounds on fuel cars coming into the city and Europe can make many parts of cities out of bound for polluting vehicles, why can’t India do the same for the most polluting parts of Indian cities?

-   The govt needs to announce its long term commitment to electric mobility and not keep the industry guessing from year to year. Investments will not come into the sector unless a 5-10 year clear policy and outlay is committed. The co-ordination between various ministries and departments needs to be improved as at present there are anomalies that hamper the growth of this sector. One example is the custom offices across India forcing electric two wheeler manufacturers to pay 5 times the import duty on the drive motor claiming it to be a rim and not an electric motor despite government allowing concessional import duty on electric/electronic components that have not yet been developed in India.

-   Installing public charging infrastructure in at least 100 cities to support electric vehicles. Budget should have special outlay for facilitating creation of this critical infrastructure support within the next 12 months.

-   The budget needs to give clear directive to public banks to offer loans to facilitate the purchase of electric vehicles. Around 60% of purchase of any automobiles is through financing and EVs are deprived of this facility.

-   Special E-Vehicle Promotional Schemes: Government and public sector offices should convert part of their fleet to electric and should heavily incentivise employees to convert to electric vehicles.