Despite Govt push and increasing awareness, E-mobility has few takers in India

Green mobility looks to be a distant dream in India.

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The Government of India has been actively looking for ways to promote the usage of e-mobility, it’s acceptance is nowhere inspiring.

Schemes like FAME and FAME II have been introduced offing subsidies and benefits both to the manufacturers and early adopters. As a result of this encouragement, a few brands introduced their electric cars in India, the most prominent one being, Hyundai Kona.

Launched at a price of Rs. 25.30 lakh the car, which has already seen a price reduction of Rs. 1.58 lakh thanks to the GST reduction, has not been able to find any takers. Only 130 units of Hyundai Kona have been sold since launch.

At this price, which is almost 13 times of an average Indian’s annual income, the Hyundai Kona slips under a premium category and is a far fetched dream for an average Indian car buyer. Incidentally, Maruti Alto and Maruti Swift, the two highest-selling vehicles are priced at Rs. 3.5lakh and 5.5 lakh approximately. This gap in the price tells you the story of why Hyundai Kona or for that matter any other electric vehicle has not got any prominence.

The price gap between what is selling and what should be bought is incredible and way out of the reach of masses.

Now if you’re of an opinion that price is the only deciding factor behind the low sales of EV’s, well you’ve just partially correct. While the pricing cannot be ignored, its the lack of interest by banks to offer finance schemes, govt. department’s unwillingness to use EVs and lack of charging infrastructure are the major roadblocks affecting electric vehicles’ adoption in the country.

Though the country has a huge potential for EVs where over 1000 citizens there are only 27 battery-operated vehicles compared to Germany where the over 570 out of 1000 people own an electric vehicle.

8000 EV’s were sold in India in the past 6 years while China sells same number of vehciles in just over two days!

Brands like Maruti, Tata, MG Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Honda etc are playing safe at the moment and are waiting for clear policies and better public charging infrastructure to be in place before taking a plunge in the future of mobility. However, things won’t change till all or some of these brands take a plunge.

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Awareness about electric vehicles is rising in general and people are concerned about the environment more than ever. However, awareness and scope alone can’t help much. Lack of charging infrastructure is a major hindrance at the moment.

No, we’re not talking about the public charging facilities, they are barely there as of now. Early adopters are facing a lot of backlash for neighbours and building & Society associations for getting the charging points installed at their premises. People have a fear that charging the high powered battery in these vehicles pose a fire threat. Awareness and safety measures on that front also need an increased focus.

Apart from that the hardware which powers these vehicles is another issue. The battery which is the most important component and costs almost half the price of the vehicle takes a good 15-20 hours to charge up fully. Hyundai motors offer two separate chargers along with its Kona electric car so that you can charge the vehicle at your home and office conveniently, but tanking up the battery needs it to be plugged in for good 19 hours!

The central govt. has committed to spending over $1.5bn in subsidies, the major chunk of this benefit is expected to go into setting up a Giga-factories to make Lithion ION batteries in the country. Since China has majority control over the manufacturing, supply, and consumption if LI-Ion batteries, these do not come cheap and in adequate quantity.

While the process to invite bids to set up these factories has been initiated, it will take another 3-4 years for these factories to get into production mode and make an impact on the price of batteries and EVs in India.

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Another major hindrance for consumers to acquire electric vehicles is the fact that not too many banks of financial institutions offer financial aid or loan to buy e-vehicles. In the domestic market, where the majority of vehicles are purchased on finance, Banks are yet to warm up to the situation and yet to come up with dedicated schemes to finance the purchase.

All these conditions are applicable for electric two-wheelers as well where the upfront cost, easy financing options, and a proper solution to charge or replace batteries is a huge obstacle in wider acceptance of e-mobility.

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