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India to Focus on Building EV Infrastructure and Charging Stations

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【Summary】India’s new timeline for EVs incorporates a handful of new objectives.

Michael Cheng    Mar 13, 2018 6:50 PM PT
India to Focus on Building EV Infrastructure and Charging Stations
author: Michael Cheng   

Two years ago, India presented a grand plan to completely phase out gas-powered cars by 2030, in favor of EVs. But without a clear path to take and supporting policies to fuel growth, the country became overwhelmed with challenges in meeting its ambitious goal.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government decided to scale back its EV plans. Now, local officials are aiming for 30 percent EVs by 2030. This isn't necessarily a bad move, as the realistic goal ensures successful implementation of the country's EV program.

New EV Timeline

India's new timeline for EVs incorporates a handful of new objectives. According to Power Minister RK Singh, the government is expected to provide new policies and regulations surrounding charging stations for EVs. The details of the policies will cover frameworks for bidding (charging services), tariff guidelines and more.

Interestingly, Singh believes the old, 100 percent EVs by 2030 goal is still attainable, as long as local officials continue to work at it. On the other hand, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) proposed a 40 percent EV target by 2030 and a 100 percent EV target by 2047. SIAM's recommendations were announced in 2016.

"The government is focusing on creating charging infrastructure and policy framework so that by 2030, more than 30 percent of vehicles are electric vehicles," said Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary at the Ministry of Power. "My message to the industry is, come and invest in manufacturing of e-vehicles and batteries."

In order to meet its 30 percent EVs by 2030 goal, roughly 6.5 million EVs must be deployed in the country. During an interview with BloombergQuint, Kumar Kandaswamy (partner at consulting firm Deloitte) cited some challenges associated with the plan.

Potential roadblocks include limited access to raw materials for battery production and easing price differentials between gas-powered cars and EVs. Currently, Mahindra & Mahindra is the only local automotive company offering EVs. Tata Motors recently showcased its first EV, called the Tigor EV. However, the unit was only released for the Energy Efficiency Services (EESL) project.

EESL and EV Demand

Increasing EV demand is a crucial part of India's EV program, as it would help the nascent sector scale quickly. So far, the EESL, a state-run company spearheading the procurement of EVs for government fleets, is on track in fulfilling its agenda. The group is in the process of requesting for an additional 10,000 EVs.

The EESL is also in charge of allocating EVs to various government groups and local ministries. According to an EESL representative, the company will sign a memorandum of understanding with the government of Gujarat, which would secure 8,000 EVs for the group. Moreover, the Ministry of Railways will be provided with 1,000 EVs for official use.

"It will partly be driven by the market. You can't have charging infrastructure coming in a big way when you don't have vehicles. Though, charging infrastructure should probably be a little ahead of the curve," highlighted Santosh Kamath, partner at KPMG, during an interview with Quartz.

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