Speaking at the India Global Forum, India’s Minister for Roads, Transport and Highways and MSMEs, talks about his plans for achieving the goal of popularising the adoption of e-vehicles and encouraging cutting edge research in new battery technologies in the country.
The Narendra Modi government wants to make India a manufacturing hub for electric cars, electric buses, electric two-wheelers, electric autorickshaws and batteries. With this goal in mind, it is focusing on import substitution that is both pollution-free and cost-effective.
This was stated by Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Roads, Transport and Highways and MSMEs, at the India Global Forum, which hosted some of the world’s leading decision makers and intellectuals, recently.
India imports more than $100 billion worth of petroleum products, Gadkari informed. A lot of that is burnt as fuel for the transport sector. This causes severe air pollution, which, in turn, creates a health risk for people in the country.
“We are partnering with the UK on climate change and sustainability. We strongly believe society should be liveable, workable and sustainable with special focus on ethics, ecology and environment,” the minister said.
“Protecting the health of the common man is our highest priority,” he said. To mitigate this, “the government is giving special incentives for the production of e-vehicles. The tax on internal combustion vehicles is 48 per cent compared to just 5 per cent for e-vehicles. We are also working on zinc ion, aluminium ion and steel ion. Research is also ongoing on making hydrogen fuel cells. That is also a priority sector”.
The most popular source of power for e-vehicles today comes from lithium ion batteries. Though India doesn’t have lithium, “we are now making 86 per cent of the battery under Make in India”, Gadkari said.
In line with its focus on making India an e-vehicle manufacturing hub, the Indian government is encouraging the development of Indian technology and innovation in e-vehicles.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and start-ups are involved in R&D on developing new battery technologies.
“The government is supporting localisation of all EV parts. The battery is the most important part of an e-vehicle and accounts for 50 per cent of its cost. I recently chaired a meeting on pushing efforts towards developing alternative battery technologies based on metal ions like zinc ion, aluminium ion, etc. Our research is at its final stages and I’m confident we will get good results from that. We are also aggressively pursuing research on green hydrogen as a transport fuel. IIT Chennai is conducting research on using sea water using solar power,” said Gadkari.
Both the Centre and the states are moving aggressively to encourage the adoption of EVs. About $8 billion has been allocated for a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for the domestic auto industry. In addition to this, the government has allocated $3 billion for ACC battery storage production.
“Many start-ups are providing e-bikes on rent. Amazon has changed its entire fleet to electric. Then, the government is planning to set up a financial institution to fund business with a focus on e-vehicles and facilitating new financial instruments for lending to public transport and commercial vehicle segments,” he said.
Sharing details of measures taken by his ministry to encourage the adoption of e-vehicles, Gadkari said under FAME-2, a scheme to promote manufacture and use of such vehicles in the country, the government is offering a subsidy of $430 per two-wheeler, $4,000 per car and $47,000 per bus.
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Then, the state government in Delhi government (which is different from the Government of India) offers additional incentives of $400 per e-two-wheeler and $2,000 per car.
“India has about 300,000 electric two-wheelers and the number is rising rapidly. They can be charged easily at home and they have low operational and maintenance costs,” Gadkari stressed.
Attracted by India’s massive potential, global giants like Tesla and Triton EV are expected to enter the Indian market soon to give competition to homegrown brands like Tata Motors, Mahindra and a few others.
“We’re framing policies to incentivise EV adoption by giving GST exemptions, etc. We will soon provide incentives for construction equipment vehicles to switch to electric power trains,” he informed, adding: “JCB, a UK company, has produced such a vehicle that runs 50 per cent on CNG. I have requested them to convert it fully to CNG. The goal is to run all such vehicles on electric, ethanol, bio-CNG and LNG.”
Gadkari informed that the government will do this through the Go Electric Campaign. A similar move to convert highly polluting diesel generators, which are a common sight in Indian cities, is also on the anvil.
These steps will help India meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. “Our efforts are to reduce carbon emission by 33-35 per cent by 2030.” Gadkari added.
Discussing investment opportunities in India, the minister informed that the government has set a target of building roads and highways worth $200 billion over two years.
“My aim is to construct a world class highway network and road infrastructure in the country. India is constructing highways at the highest speed in the world. When I took charge (in 2014), the rate of construction was 13 km/day; now, it is 37 km/day,” he said.
“We’re building an access-controlled highway between Mumbai and Delhi on which you will be able to travel between the cities in 12 hours. Several others like Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Haridwar, Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Chandigarh are also there. Now, I’m planning e-highways, with charging points for vehicles. We’re also constructing 65,000 km of National Highways under the Bharat Mala programme and building 22 access controlled highways,” the minister informed.
The goal is to reduce the cost of logistics in the country to improve the ease of doing business and achieving the goal of Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India). “Highways will play a very important role in that,” he said.
Further, the government is building 35 multi-modal logistics parks. There are huge opportunities in the installation of intelligent transport systems, advanced traffic management systems and IoT and AI-based driver information systems, GPS-based toll collection system and logistics management systems. New transport systems like hyperloop and drone taxis are also attracting attention in the country, he informed.