Recently in the CII Annual Session 2017 speech, the Central Coal and Mines minister, Piyush Goyal, announced that the government has plans to make electric vehicle industry self-sufficient. The government insists that it is set on a course to switch over exclusively to electric cars by 2030.
Is this vision too optimistic for a developing country like India, where numerous remote villages are yet to be electrified? Let us analyse the facts and the feasibility.
The Government’s vision seems to be inspired by countries like Netherlands, Germany, and Norway. Netherlands and Norway plan to phase out all fossil-fueled vehicles by 2025, and Germany by 2030. However, we should keep in mind that all these 3 countries have achieved 100% electrification, and a significant part of their electricity generation are based on renewable energy sources. Unfortunately in India, electrification has only reached 79% of the total population, and 80% of the power generated by India is dependent on fossil fuels.
The number of cars sold in those countries are much lesser compared to India, despite average number of cars per 1000 people being higher in Europe. Let’s compare India with Norway.
- Norway sold 200317 cars in 2016-17, Norway has 584 cars per 1000 citizens.
- India sold 3046727 cars in 2016-17, India has only 32 cars per 1000 citizens.
8350 vehicles are purchased in India every single day, and as the economy is progressing, more and more Indians are buying cars. As per projections, this figure will rise to 13700/day in just 3 years.
Maruti Suzuki Gurgaon factory can make one car in every 16 seconds!
Currently, electric vehicle sales in India are insignificant. In 2016-17, only 22000 electric vehicles were sold in India, which were mostly 2-wheelers. Only 2000 among the 22000 were 4-wheelers, that is not even 1% of the total vehicle market in India. The vision of government to replace all these vehicles with electric alternatives by 2030.
A study conducted by Niti Aayog found that switching to electric vehicles could save 3.9 Lakh Crore Rupees in fuel costs every year, while cutting down 1000 megaton of carbon emissions in India by 2030.
Why Indians are not buying Electric Cars
The reason for poor sales figures of electric cars can be broken down to several points:
- The available infrastructure in India in unsuitable for electric vehicles. Many villages and towns still lack reliable, consistent, 24×7 power supply. There are not enough charging points available in the streets and parking lots, even in mega cities. Unlike a petrol/diesel car, refueling cannot be done in minutes. A full charge requires hours, during which the vehicle must remain non-operational. Tesla motors have battery swap stations across USA. India does not have any such infrastructure.
- Electric cars currently have much lesser engine power, and can run only about 100-130 kilometers on a single charge. A petrol/diesel car can carry more passengers per trip, due to higher engine power, and can run more than 350 kilometers on a single refueling.
- Availability of after-sales service, repair shops and parts is a key concern for electric vehicles.
- Reliability of electric vehicles on Indian roads are not proven.
The only 2 commercially available electric cars in the Indian market are Mahindra e2o and Mahindra e-verito. These cars cost about 5.5 Lakhs and 10 lakhs respectively. Indian customers are very price conscious. Investing the same amount of money after a petrol/diesel vehicle allows better flexibility at this moment.
Mahindra e2o being showcased in New Delhi
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