India may not be leading the charge when it comes to electric mobility currently, but the progress has been significant when it comes to sales numbers, OEM model portfolio, technology and infrastructure in the country. Devansh Jain, Chairman of the Renewable Energy Committee at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry is confident that the country is on the right path to electric mobility.
“India’s electric mobility vision is a vision we all must embrace wholeheartedly,” he said. India is in the phase of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and before this, the EV manufacturing system was practically non-existent. The current electrification scenario roughly puts EVs at a mere 2% of the overall automotive sales, some sectors more, some less. But the Government has a clear mandate to push it to 30% in the near future. Much movement is happening in this direction, including increasing the number of State policies and expanding charging infrastructure.
“I'm sure, over the next couple of months, you will see some kind of a uniform charging policy,” he mentioned, pointing towards the upgrades coming to FAME2 policy and PLI schemes for manufacturing. He is particularly worried about the uniform charging policy, which is a bit slow in progress. The vehicle is not the issue anymore, but more money and investment have to flow into the charging infrastructure and the supply chain.
The other setback he noticed was the availability of critical raw materials for manufacturing. Technology can be developed, but the salts will continue to be imported. There are countries like Argentina and Cuba that India can work with directly and reduce import dependence on China. “Yes, there are deposits in Rajasthan, and more recently found in J&K, but the process of auctioning these rare earth elements (REE) has been slow. And mobility is not a priority, as consumer electronics too require these REEs for manufacturing,” he added.
The Government has been thinking out of the box with the PLI and FAME schemes. There have been hiccups and a few frauds about the loopholes in the system when it comes to utilising a certain amount of domestic content, but that is all being evened out at a quick pace according to Jain.
He also pointed out towards the bigger OEMs, in the two-wheeler sector, who have been reluctant to get on the electrification journey. But then, slow and steady, as the wave of EV start-ups continued to make significant technological developments, the bigger players started developing their electric models. “I say this because two-wheelers are going to be the easiest and quickest to transition, and in a couple of years you will see their sales numbers gain manifold traction as the product costs keep coming down,” he said. But quality has to be kept in check, which is what the Government set standards will do. China has faced backlash due to EV quality concerns, and India does not want to follow that.
“Hydrogen is not going to take off for mobility. Global manufacturers like Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW have been trying to make them viable for years, but hydrogen is just too difficult to manage. It is easier to store electricity than hydrogen, and that is where the future for low-cost mobility lies,” said Jain.