Tata Motors' Shailesh Chandra on why EVs are technology of choice for OEMs world over

Shailesh Chandra, MD, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles and Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, makes an argument for why EVs are the future of mobility.

By Shailesh Chandra calendar 02 Jan 2024 Views icon7474 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Tata Motors' Shailesh Chandra on why EVs are technology of choice for OEMs world over

Amidst soaring global temperatures and record-breaking greenhouse gas emissions, the latest Emissions Gap Report serves as a stark warning. Even if current pledges under the Paris Agreement are implemented by 2030, global temperatures could still rise 2.5-2.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century. Amidst these challenges, Electric Vehicles (EVs) offer a glimmer of hope.

The Paris Agreement is a landmark international treaty on climate change that was adopted on December 12, 2015, at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France.

As per the 2023 State of Climate Action Report, Electric Vehicles and their share of passenger car sales are the only climate action metric on track to meet the 2030 target, among 42 sectoral indicators.

EVs are an imperative to address urban pollution and carbon emissions in India

If we have to be net carbon zero by 2070 as a nation, then deep Battery Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption is not a choice, it is an imperative. Numerous global reports have conclusively proven that EVs have the lowest carbon emissions by far across all available automotive powertrain technologies.

EVs are significantly more energy efficient than ICE vehicles, converting a higher percentage of electricity into usable power at the wheels, reducing overall energy consumption. Further, the flexibility of EV charging allows for the use of 100 percent renewable energy sources, including accessible rooftop solar solutions. With India’s solar power capacity expected to quadruple to 293 GW by 2030, lifecycle GHG emissions of EVs are projected to be 30 percent, 63 percent lower than their gasoline counterparts. As the grid gradually transitions to renewable energy sources, their carbon footprint will further decrease.

It is astonishing to note that less than 1 percent of the renewable energy capacity planned in India by 2030 would be sufficient to charge all passenger car EVs in India, considering 30 percent EV penetration. Additionally, EVs typically produce less emissions over their lifecycle, especially in regions where renewable energy sources form a significant portion of the electricity supply.

Less than 1 percent of the renewable energy capacity planned in India by 2030 would be sufficient to charge all passenger car EVs in India, considering 30 percent EV penetration.

Therefore, EVs have the potential to drastically reduce vehicular emissions, aligning with India’s clean energy goals and sustainability objectives.

In addition to carbon emissions, EVs more significantly address India’s silent pandemic of urban pollution. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)and Dalberg, urban particulate matter pollution results in a five-year reduction in life expectancy in the Indian subcontinent and contributes to nearly two million deaths and reduces GDP growth by three percent. In addition, 14 out of the 20 cities with the worst air quality are in India. Delhi has an annual average particulate pollution of 126.5 g/m3 — more than 25 times the WHO guideline. In 2022, the Government of India revamped its NCAP goal, aiming to achieve a 40 percent reduction in particulate pollution levels by 2026 in 131 non-attainment cities, which would increase India’s national average life expectancy by 7.9 months, and by 4.4 years for residents of Delhi. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) present a compelling solution as they produce zero tailpipe emissions, which means that for an average running of 1,000 km/month, each EV saves 4 kg of PM emissions. Therefore, it is an imperative for India to switch to EVs.

EVs are clearly the technology of choice around the world for OEMs and nations

Governments globally recognise the substantial emissions benefits of EVs and have set ambitious targets to accelerate the transition. Several European countries have committed to achieving a 100 percent EV fleet within the next 15 years. In India, the government has proactively implemented a range of policy measures including FAME incentives, reduced GST, Production-Linked-Incentive (PLI) scheme for automobiles and batteries, as well as registration fee waivers, among others, to foster EV adoption.

All major global and Indian OEMs have substantial EV programmes with dozens of models planned to be launched over the next two or three years. As per IEA, most major car OEMs are now planning for an EV future, with major carmakers now committing 50 percent-70 percent of their capex and R&D budget to EV and digital technologies.

The recent reports of a slowdown in EV sales, globally and in India, might be interpreted by some as a sign that the EV adoption has hit a speed bump. If you study the trend closely, you will see in the nine months of 2023, the EV market worldwide has grown by 33 percent on a strong base. Key markets like China (26 percent), top five markets of Europe (40 percent) and US (64 percent) have grown in strong double digits. It is heartening to note that the expectations on EV growth are so high and steeper growth is expected. 

India is already undergoing an EV revolution, with exponentially growing EV volumes

India, a rapidly emerging market for EVs, currently boasts over 2.3 million EV users, with sales in FY22-23 surpassing 1.2 million, marking an impressive 174 percent increase from the previous year. More than 60 percent of these sales were two-wheelers, while passenger electric three-wheelers accounted for 29 percent of total units sold. India is on the cusp of an EV revolution, aligning with the government’s goal of achieving 30 percent EVs by 2030.

According to a McKinsey study, electric two-wheelers are expected to account for 60- 70 percent of new vehicle sales in India by 2030. Moreover, a significant 70 percent of Tier I Indian car consumers are contemplating electric cars for their next vehicle, surpassing the global average of 52 percent.

Among the biggest benefits include positive impact on the environment (67 percent), lower Total Cost of Ownership (26 percent), and reduced engine noise (26 percent). Further, electric buses are set to gain prominence in the commercial vehicle space, collectively underscoring the transformative potential of electric mobility in India.

The EV industry in India is also world-class, with models such as the Nexon.ev, which offers features that are provided by bespoke EV platforms, with no compromises on range or comfort. Many more high-range, high performance and accessible EVs are expected to be launched in the next two or three years, providing a range of options for customers across price segments and body styles, enabling deep adoption of EVs.

EV adoption will further accelerate in India with further reduction of battery costs, as well as a growing ecosystem. Battery costs have been steadily decreasing, with a 14 percent drop this year, due to lower raw material prices. A Goldman Sachs report predicts a 40 percent reduction by 2025 (from 2022). The good news is with battery costs hitting a magical USD 100 per kWh level, there is potential to see a mass-market electric car with a 250 km real range at a similar price level as an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle within the next 18 -20 months. With this, India will see a step-jump in EV adoption.

An enabling ecosystem can supercharge EV adoption

To fully realise the potential and expedite adoption, creating an enabling charging ecosystem is crucial. Case studies from across the world show that ubiquitous and convenient charging infrastructure is a prerequisite for driving EV adoption, and growth in charging infrastructure results in an exponential growth in EV adoption. RWA-level charging stations to enable home charging in cities and fast charging on highways to provide seamless travel are critical to driving the next level of EV adoption. The need of the hour for developing this charging ecosystem is open collaboration between OEMs, Charging Point Operators, building developers and municipalities.

Driving greater awareness of EVs is equally critical

It is also necessary for the stakeholders to come together to educate customers and policymakers on EVs and address myths such as on battery life, battery recycling, and range anxiety. Current EV batteries have a lifespan of over 1,500 charging cycles — which means, for an electric vehicle with 300 km range, the usable life the battery works out to over 4.5 lakh km. Even post then, the batteries would function at a slightly lower capacity. This means that a vehicle battery can last approximately 15-20 years within the vehicle, and they may even have a second life after this initial period in energy storage, prior to being recycled.

OEMs are bringing world-class products across segments, a charging ecosystem is evolving to enable seamless nationwide transit, and the government is providing robust support for EV adoption.

Recycling and reuse programmes are becoming more prevalent and are also mandated by the central government’s Battery Waste Management Regulations, thus reducing environmental impact and the overall cost of battery replacement.

Approximately 50 percent of spent battery materials can potentially be mined, significantly reducing the annual demand for these minerals by up to 28 percent over the next two decades, per a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation. NITI Aayog forecasts that in India, by 2030, there could be as much as 128 gigawatt-hours of recyclable batteries available, with EV batteries constituting 46 percent of this.

Range anxiety can be addressed through facts on the driving behaviour and charging availability. For example, our data shows that 75 percent of long trips are less than 400 km and only 15 percent of customers drive more than 400 km in a single trip, and that an average highway trip is punctuated every 135 km with a 30-minute stop. In addition, with a charging infrastructure comprising 6,500+ public chargers and 65 percent of our national highways equipped with charging stations every 100 km, EVs can be a seamless part of Indian customers’ journeys.

The government has provided multiple benefits for EV ownership such as road tax and registration fee waivers in most states, lower cost financing and tax breaks for EVs, as well as state-specific incentives for EV adoption. It is necessary to drive awareness of these incentives to ensure that vehicle buyers are aware of these benefits.

EVs are the future and stakeholders should build this future together

In summary, OEMs are bringing world-class products across segments, a charging ecosystem is evolving to enable seamless nationwide transit, and the government is providing robust support for EV adoption.

In addition, with lower battery prices, price parity for EVs with a 250 km driving range with ICE is imminent in the next few years. Therefore, EVs are far from a passing trend but are the future of sustainable transportation.

Now, is the time for all stakeholders in the ecosystem to come together to support greater adoption of EVs, and thus help address a national imperative in cleaning our air and combating global climate change.

This blog was first published in Autocar Professional's December 15, 2023 issue.

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