The Climate Risk Index 2020, which was released in December 2019 by the environment think tank showed that India’s rank had worsened from the 14th spot in 2017 to 5th place in 2018 on the global vulnerability ladder. Hence, the Indian government found itself under prominent scrutiny at the beginning of 2020. However, the simple yet effective solution proposed was to make the usage of electric vehicles a high priority. This marked the currently in-progress revolution of electric vehicles in India.
To win the fight against the depleting fossil fuels and increasing threat to the environment, major auto manufacturers are looking for ways to leverage from this widely untapped sector in India. While the mission started with a focus on making two-wheelers and three-wheelers electric, which will gradually be carried out for public transportation and cars.
What Does The Current Scenario Look Like
Before we delve deep into the current usage of electric vehicles in India, let’s first understand what is an electric vehicle.
Essentially, an electric vehicle is propelled by one or more electric motors, which work with the help of stored energy in rechargeable batteries, instead of burning fossil fuels like petrol and diesel. Currently, there are three main categories of electric vehicles available:
- Solar power electric vehicles
- Hybrid electric cars powered with a mix of internal combustion and batteries
- Electric cars with onboard battery packs, which are known as BEV (battery electric vehicle)
When it comes to the Indian scenario, many local and global auto manufacturers have started testing the potential of the Indian market for electric vehicles. Considering Elon Musk has announced the launch of Tesla in the Indian market soon, the movement is on an all-time rise.
In fact, prominent automobile manufacturers like Hyundai Kona Electric, Mahindra e-Verito, Mahindra e2o, Porsche Taycan, Tata Tigor EV 2019, have announced the launch of electric four-wheeler vehicles. However, with the government’s support, many more automobile companies are expected to partake in this revolution to fulfill with the goal of making India the first EV-nation.
Will Indian Consumers Accept Electric Vehicles?
Initially, the slow response of the Indian population towards two-wheeler electric vehicles was a point of consideration for automobile manufacturers. However, this challenge is non-existent considering the rise of interest among common masses for electric cars is on an all-time high.
Various industry leaders who have been part of the niche and have closely analyzed the industry have stated that the Indian market is promising. Here’s what they have to say:
Akil Aryan CEO, and Co-Founder ION Energy
According to Akhil Aryan, timely adoption coupled with the electrification of the existing vehicles and growth of charging infrastructure will create a shift, the impact of which will be felt in metropolitan cities especially given that pollution has reached catastrophic levels.
Greg Moran, Founder of Zoomcar
Greg Moran believes that the median age of Indians being 27 years, the younger generation is driven for innovation, sustainability and environmental conservation. At the same time, by manufacturing vehicles, components and batteries together, various established conglomerates and startups are ensuring the indigenous availability of products.
What Are The Challenges In Consumer Adoption Of Electric Cars?
It’s no secret that when a niche attempts to revolutionize buying patterns and break away from the old norms it’s a tough challenge. After all, as the buying patterns are new, there are no experiences to learn from, and many setbacks are caused due to trial errors. Simultaneously, consumers are hesitant about the new product. For example, many questions are raised about EVs speed. Hence, it’s imperative for brands to educate customers and bust any myths around the new product.
While the launch of electric vehicles faces all the challenges of a newly launched product, there are a host of other issues too that are arising. Some of these issues are:
- Lack of charging infrastructure
- Low battery performance
- Supply-demand gap
- Creating the closed-loop
1) Actions Taken To Adopt Electric Vehicles
While there are multiple challenges that the Indian government and automobile manufacturers face while launching and promoting electric vehicles, they have taken several actions to combat these challenges. Some of which are provided below:
2) Increased Charging Infrastructure
The government has identified this issue early on in the process and has taken great measures to resolve it. For example, charging stations are being built at government offices, malls, and even within certain neighborhoods.
Moreover, government-owned power companies like Bharat Heavy Electricals and Energy Efficiency Services have started to build charging stations. They plan to roll out 10,000 stations over the next two years.
3) A Host of Options
With more automobile manufacturers launching in India, electric vehicle models are proliferating. For instance, while Hyundai launched its first electric Kona carr in India, Nissan too launched its Leaf model around the same time period. Moreover, Indian manufacturers like Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors too have provided a host of electric vehicles for consumers.
4) Public Transport & Consumer-Facing Apps Normalize Electric Vehicles
India’s capital Delhi has over 1,000 electric buses running on its roads. Moreover, there are several apps, including bike-sharing company Bounce, that have gone electric. Even taxi-hailing cabs like Ola are focusing on launching electric vehicles, along with home delivery service apps that have to ferry parcels are using electric bikes.
5) Battery Swaps For Better Convenience
Another challenge that automobile manufacturers are working on is fixing the inconvenience of continuously charging the batteries of the vehicles. Not only is it a time-consuming task, but it also causes big issues if no charging facility is nearby. Hence, companies like Bounce are experimenting with the battery swap model, wherein a fully-charged battery would quickly replace the discharged one.
Moreover, both the government and the automobile manufacturers are striving to reduce the cost of batteries, which will increase the appeal of electric vehicles as it becomes competitive with those vehicles running on fuels, along with the added bonus of improving the environment.
The Next Steps
While there’s no doubt that currently, sustainable demand for electric vehicles is lacking in the electric market, many industry leaders believe that the shift will happen very soon. This is primarily due to the number of companies and industries that are adopting and promoting the use of electric vehicles. Whether these experts are right or not, time will tell. However, it does look like these battery-powered vehicles are here to stay!0