EV, Charging, Infrastructure, EESL, E buses, R.K. Singh, MNRE, DISCOM, energy efficiency

India’s electric vehicle sector is progressing steadily, thanks to government efforts to procure EVs for various departments and efforts by city transportation corporations to procure e-buses for public transportation.

As things shape up for the better in the country’s EV sector, various national and international players are being drawn into the rapidly expanding and dynamic industry, making it increasingly competitive.

A recent study by Niti Aayog and the Rocky Mountain Institute highlighted the staggering potential of India’s EV market. Researchers found that India could account for more than one-third of the global market for EV batteries by 2030 if it were to become a 100 percent EV nation.

Recently, U.S. automaker Ford Motors entered India’s EV sector by inking a strategic alliance with Mumbai-based Mahindra Group as part of a broader effort to tap into the country’s motor vehicle market. Ford is following the footsteps of Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Nissan, and Maruti Suzuki.

The immense potential of India’s emerging EV market is piquing the interest of investors and automakers around the globe.

That potential was evident in the competitiveness of recent government auctions for e-buses intended for use in public transportation.

In the latest e-bus auction for nine cities, Tata Motors, India’s largest automaker, won a contract to supply a 190 e-buses to Indore, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Jammu; and Goldstone-BYD, a partnership of Hyderabad-based Goldstone Infratech and China’s BYD, bagged orders to supply 290 e-buses to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

The competitive auction drove e-bus prices to new lows. A report in The Hindu newspaper said, “the nine-meter-long electric buses were quoted for as low as ₹8.5 million and the 12-meter ones at ₹9.8 million, against the normal listed price of ₹16 million and ₹21 million, respectively.”

Government support for the sector is one of the main reasons why EV manufacturers are bidding so low. The government recently announced plans to provide up to ₹1.05 billion (~$16.2 million) in grant funding to Smart Cities for the purchase of EVs to be used for mass transportation as part of a pilot project under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) program.

In tandem with steps taken by the central government to support EVs, Karnataka and Maharashtra have also launched their own EV policies that provide various subsidies and incentives to consumers. All these point toward the development of a developing EV ecosystem, where EV could become an integral part of both private and public transportation.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has also rolled out a plan to set up charging stations across the country. “We have already laid down 250 charging stations in Delhi and a tender has been floated to set up an additional 2,500 stations across the country,” stated EESL managing director Saurabh Kumar in a Press Trust of India (PTI) report.

The Minister for Power, R.K. Singh, recently chaired a meeting with battery manufacturers in New Delhi to discuss the creation of an ecosystem that would incentivize battery manufacturing. In the meeting, Singh assured battery manufacturers that the government would take all possible measures to incentivize the sector.

The move could benefit India’s entire EV sector and demonstrates how the government is adopting a proactive approach by not only setting targets, but also by trying to develop each layer of the EV industry before demand starts to boom.

NITI Aayog and EESL are also working to advance the EV sector by teaming up to host an EV summit on June 18-19, 2018. The event will be a focal point for updates on how the Indian EV industry can foster job creation and create opportunities for local manufacturers, research communities, policymakers, and public and private enterprises alike. It will also help these groups see how they can come together to create a sustainable mobility sector.

Recently, EESL issued a second tender for the procurement of 10,000 EVs after the delivery of first batch of EVs that it procured after the August 2017 EV tender.

In November 2017, Mercom reported that competition is heating up in India’s EV sector as the Indian government is currently targeting the sale of 6-7 million new hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), making EVs the next big cleantech opportunity in India.

Distribution companies (DISCOMs) have started to participate in development of EV charging infrastructure. Recently, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) announced plans to develop 11 fast-charging stations for Bangalore’s EVs. Apart from DISCOMs, public sector units like National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) are also getting involved in setting up EV charging infrastructure across India.

All of these factors are culminating to create a surge of interest in the EV sector by private players. Private firms like ABB India and Fortum are just two of the companies that are gradually increasing their presence in this sector.

India’s EV segment, which was largely dormant for the past few years, finally seems ready to take off.

Image credit: By Visitor7 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons