“In the long-term, the electric vehicle market in India looks stable. We have a unique market and also the largest pool of two and three-wheeler market. If we could electrify those segments, we could put millions of EVs on the road. This could save a lot in terms of pollution and also create a large ecosystem in India for EV and its components. We can really become Atmanirbhar, and also become global suppliers for EV,” said Sulajja Firodia Motwani, founder and CEO of Kinetic Green.
Speaking at the webinar hosted by Autocar Professional, ‘EVs: Pain or Gain Ahead?’, Sulajja pointed out the fact that India can really use the pandemic to leapfrog into the EV space.
Anil Srivastava, Adviser (Transport) and DG, DMEO, NITI Aayog; Mahesh Babu, MD and CEO, Mahindra Electric and chairman, Electric Mobility Group, SIAM; Sohinder Gill, DG, SMEV and CEO of Hero Electric and Nishant Arya, ED, JBM Group were the other panelists at the session.
Sharing her views on the prospects of EV three-wheeler both in the passenger and the cargo segment, Sulajja mentioned, “The pandemic has made us realise that going forward clean energy push is needed more than ever before. We cannot lose sight of the long term goals. It has also made us realise unless we reverse the cycle of high carbon-emitting lifestyle there will more issue. We have realised that health, economics, climate change and many other things are interrelated and important. We need to dedicate ourselves to no carbon era.”
She pointed out that EVs are an integral part of the transportation network and the trend indicates that these vehicles are going to be cheaper than the IC engines in the future.
She feels that there will be a short-term impact if a few issues are not addressed. Explaining her perspective, she said, “One, the customers. They could likely stick to something they are familiar with and might even postpone the purchase of an EV. Second, the overall impact in the automobile sector might have an effect on this segment too. Third, there is a risk of lower investment in the EV space by players as they try to protect the existing businesses. If such issues are not addressed, we could face a short term impact. There are companies and also startups here in the EV space. Unless there is continuous support they might feel difficulties of not being able to sustain.”
According to Sulajja, “It is very much possible EV could be desirable in the post-Covid world. But, we need to work together to make this pain a gain.”
Winds of change
The electric mobility wave in India is expected to be driven by two- and three-wheelers. This has surely made progress over the years and the startups, supply chains here adds more commitment value to the same. But, most importantly the customer mindset towards EVs are changing, according to Sulajja, ‘It has changed from why buy an EV to why not an EV?’ Acting swiftly and collaboratively will help the growth of electric mobility post-Covid. If the industry continues to remain committed to the EV space, and if the policy support from the government continues, she sees it becoming a possibility.
Sulajja pointed out that, “There is a positive mindset. Over the next 2-3 years, if we focus on creating a population of electric two-wheelers, three-wheelers and buses we could really set the momentum for the next stage. The major critical point here is the price gap. The government and OEMs have to work together to reduce the cost by making in India and making it locally, even the batteries and cells. If it happens we will win the race, and become the largest EV market in the world.”
“Post Covid, there should be some support from the government so the industry can survive. Keeping the FAME policy for a longer time, increasing the level of subsidy from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per kWh are a few suggestions. Though this does not give much of a difference, it will definitely be a boost in the demand in EV. Also, implementing the EV policy of the states would accelerate the deployment,” she added.
Electric vehicles in the CV segment
The last mile connectivity segment is becoming a key EV destination. Speaking on the topic, Sulajja highlighted that, “Delivery is showing a lot of potential for electric mobility. E-commerce has its own sustainability goals, and because of lower running cost EV, there is a possibility of looking at EV fleets. This segment provides a great oppurtunity. But, there is an issue of overloading in India which needs to be addressed."
She signed off on an optimistic note, "The EV story in India remains very strong and we can convert the pains into gains but for that we need the commitment for the cause of the EVs."