A few days ago, Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power and Renewable Energy, made a bold statement about how India is aiming to become a country where no diesel or petrol vehicles will be sold by 2030. We were a bit apprehensive about how the government would undertake such a Herculean (or should we say ‘Bahubali-an’) task, given the way the Indian automotive market has little or no interest in electric vehicles. Bangalore on the other hand can be proud of the REVA electric car, which was one of the first commercially manufactured electric cars in India. The earlier versions are in fact as good as motorcycles, when it comes to snaking your way through Bangalore Traffic. But overall the picture has been bleak for electric vehicles, with sales accounting to just 0.1% of the entire Indian automotive market.
The announcement was followed by The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, which aims to create a vehicle population of 6-7 million electric or hybrid vehicles in India in the next three years. On the outset, this may seem like something impossible, but with a proper plan and thorough execution, we feel that such a step will go a long way in the right direction. To begin with, the government has laid out a few broad pointers to achieve this aim. First and foremost, the plan is to incentivise the supply as well as acquisition of hybrid/electric vehicles. Mumbo jumbo aside, this means that both vehicle manufacturers as well as buyers can expect to own electric/hybrid vehicles at affordable price points. Secondly, the government will be forming policies that promote research in areas related to battery technology, power electronics, motors, systems integration, battery management systems, testing infrastructure, and more. All this will of course be done to drive the creation of indigenous technologies that can be readily accessed by the masses.
Thus far, these steps are in line with the most basic ones that need to be taken to make the plan a reality by 2020. A key point in the plan is that the policies will also for the first time address the promotion of charging infrastructure. This means that if everything goes right, a few years from now you could just drive in into electric charging stations which might look like current petrol pumps. The only difference will be that at these charging stations they will swap the almost-dead battery of your electric car with a fully charged one, and you could be on your way to a long drive towards Mysore, within a matter of minutes. Quick charging continues to be one of the biggest barriers when it comes to electric vehicle ownership. The government is also keen on promoting hybrid kits that can help convert your existing vehicle to a hybrid one.
Things so far are looking great, but only time will tell as to how much we can achieve these aims as a country. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and wait for the day when more than the stories of emissions, we would be reading positive news about how electric vehicles helped curb global warming in a big way.