The Electric Vehicle market is booming in countries across the globe. Yet, one noteworthy fact is that the EV demand has always been majorly concentrated in a few areas, while in the others- not so much. This points towards two main factors- the somewhat higher operating cost of an EV which drives away customers on a budget and the lack of charging infrastructure in some regions. Unfortunately, India’s present EV set-up evidently lags behind most of the countries that boast a well-developed road electric vehicle charging system. This is not to say that there is no reason to believe India’s potential as an electrically mobile nation. On the contrary, our existing EV structure has much room for growth and new innovations in this sector are still being researched, so it’s still too early to feel dejected about the country’s electric future.

Electric Vehicles debuted sometime around the mid-nineteenth century when automakers were looking for possible alternatives to the traditional fuel systems. The option was researched because of its malleable utility as compared to the palpable lack of gasoline driven vehicles when it came to ease of usage and comfortable rides. Despite their advantages, road EVs did not gain popularity until the tech advancements of 21st century. As of today, electric vehicles claim a considerable chunk of all the vehicles in the market. The vehicle type also owes its revival to the latest trend of opting for renewable energy sources in all aspects- including mobility. The EVs which were mostly buses and trains in metropolises gained public interest and were expanded to the personal vehicles category through these years.

Let’s talk stats.

Despite their smaller customer appeal and market share in the 2010s, electric vehicles progressed and became extremely consistent in increasing their global shares every year. EV sales have been noted to be record breaking since 2018, and in 2019 they surpassed their previous performance to account for a total of 2.6% increase in global car sales and a 1% increase in global car stock. This was a whopping 6% increase as compared to the previous year and a 40% year-on-year increase since 2016. For 2020, the electric car global sales have been expected to total at 3%, which is almost parallel with the growth made in the preceding year. However, this is a remarkable feat in itself seeing as how rest of the passenger car sales have been expected to get stunted by 15% due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The growth has mainly taken place in the EV fertile regions of North America, Europe and China, although the developing nations still have a long way to go before developing an efficient charging structure.

India’s 2030 EV prediction

India’s personal electric car segment has definitely grown with the international markets. But the growth has nowhere been as drastic or sky-rocketing as the leading marketplaces like European countries. Currently, electric cars in the personal four wheeler segment have only penetrated 0.1% of the Indian market. This figure is expected to increase to a measly 1-3% by 2025 and then gradually climb up to 10-15% by 2030, which still isn’t much taking into account the momentum it will gain in other parts of the world. In order to improve these projected figures, the government has led numerous initiatives and invited proposals from private organisations to develop the nation’s charging infrastructure. A substantial growth in the number of personally owned electric vehicles within the coming years is one of the most important factors introduced under the Ministry of Power’s National Smart Grid Mission which aims at transforming India’s power sector. The NSGM’s implementation for EVs will take place in two phases. The first phase consists of a total of ten utilities that are technologically capable of installing EV infrastructure and if all goes well, the second phase (from 2020 to 2025) is expected to deliver a hundred percent Smart Grid rollout according to this framework.

The government is optimistic about future of electric mobility in the country and has thus set major short and long term goals as part of its various plans.

Headed by the National Council for Electric Mobility and the National Board for Mobility, the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan was another ambitious scheme of the government which aimed at boosting the xEV demand in India and achieving 6-7 million electric vehicle sales by 2020. But its imminent failure came as a result of lack of fiscal and budgeting incentives. What must be noted is that, with adequate financial support, the plan could have gained fruition in the best case scenario or would have at least geared up the economy just enough to make it capable of supporting the coming EV infrastructure.

The NEMMP was just one of the many plans launched by the government and the only wise thing to do in case of such a miscarriage is to learn from it and move on. Especially seeing as how the follow-up to this scheme was the introduction of FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in 2015. The new proposal covered all the areas that NEMMP lacked at and focused on promoting EVs through subsidies to manufacturers and infrastructure developers of electric vehicles. The first phase was a roaring success and the government has already given the go-ahead to its second phase as well, which will be concluded on March 31st, 2022.

The Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari, has on more than one occasion conveyed the government’s plans to develop our current EV infrastructure. During the online Electric Mobility Conference 2020, he stated that India is set to become a global automotive manufacturing core within the next five years. He was also positive about India’s position as a leading electric vehicle market in the near future. At another online event- the 9th edition of Auto Serve 2020, he talked about the plans of setting up 69,000 charging booths in petrol pumps all around the roads of this nation. The announcement became a raging subject for the reason that currently the numbers of charging stations in the entire country are just a few hundred in number. Gadkari also appealed to the bigwigs of Indian automotive industry asking them collaborate with the government and lower electric vehicle costs.

Even though we’re enthusiastic about the prospect of electric mobility in India, the road ahead is a rugged one.

India is a very flexible market, but the fact that Indian automotive sector missed out on the first EV boost led to the current dismal situation of personal electric vehicles in India. Luckily, all is not lost. The nation still has the potential of bouncing back from this holdup if it overcomes all the pecuniary and organisational challenges.

  • Automobile companies need to strategize and look for solutions to decrease the current average EV pricing. Interested customers are usually driven away due to the higher costs of an electric car while a similar ICE (internal combustion engine) based model can be bought for much less. This is especially accurate for a frugal market like India where consumers usually opt to more economical and multipurpose options. Unless companies tackle this huge cost parity through major R&D, the hope for EVs hitting the mainstream will remain grim.
  • The second main reason behind this current state of affairs is the ruthlessly disastrous lack of charging infrastructure, so much so that even citizens living in the metropolises have to do some serious brainstorming before making such a purchase. The reality is worse for other urban and sub-urban areas where people would not even consider buying an EV, and of course we cannot blame them for that.
  • There also seems to be a general discontent and uncertainty within the masses about adapting to such a technology. This can only be dealt with by creating a familiarity to EVs through public announcements and advertisements by the government. If electric vehicles are marketed just as any other regular vehicle, there’s a good chance that the general Indian populace might actually open up to the new technology after learning of its benefits.

If the Government of India and the nation’s major automotive bodies successfully confront these hurdles, there is little doubt that India will head on a path of becoming a chief player in the EV segment. Though the path might seem rough, it is only a matter of how efficiently the infrastructure is developed and how quickly the Indian community can warm up to the idea of taking this vehicle on a whirl along the highways. The gradual developments in this favour have slowly but surely propelled India towards an age of electric mobility.

Aayushi Primta

Aayushi Primta

Hi there! I am an amateur automobile enthusiast with a love for muscle cars. When I'm not surfing the net about latest cars, you'll find me looking up recipe videos on YouTube or playing board games. Favourite Car: '67 Camaro Quote: Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror - Colin Powell