Indian electric vehicles face practical and technical hurdles

New Delhi (AP) — HS Panno, an independent contractor living in a spacious two-story penthouse in New Delhi, questioned when he bought his first electric car in September.

So far, he is happy with the gas and maintenance savings. This has been reduced by more than half, but I’m disappointed with the practical limitations of driving the Nexon XZ +. To get started, he says he only gets 200 kilometers (125 miles) on a single charge, rather than the promised range of 315 kilometers (195 miles). Also, he can’t drive a car outside the city because he doesn’t have a charging station.

EVs are rare in India, with more than 300 million vehicles, most of which are scooters and three-wheeled electric rickshaws clogging highways. The country is now ambitiously promoting so-called “electric mobility” to reduce smog. But even with these relatively simple vehicles, the effort suffers from technical and logistical hurdles.

The EV passenger car segment may be potentially huge, but for now it’s a niche within a niche. In March, 25,640 electric vehicles were sold nationwide, 90% of which were motorcycles and tricycles. A total of 400,000 EVs registered in India in 2019 accounted for less than 0.2% of all vehicles.

Panno received a $ 1,770 rebate as a government incentive to purchase the Nexon XZ +, a mid-range electric car model from Indian carmaker Tata. Priced at $ 22,740, it’s about twice the price of the company’s most popular gas-fueled model.

“It’s a good car and a pleasure to drive, but I’m still afraid of breaking down prematurely due to lack of charge,” Panno said.

Authorities see EVs as a solution to the deadly smog suffocation streets, even though most heavily polluted coal-fired power plants generate the electricity needed to charge them. I will.

New Delhi, the capital of India, offers many grants to those who buy EVs for the first time. EVs are also exempt from road taxes and registration fees, and there are other incentives to encourage the replacement of old gas and diesel vehicles with new electric vehicles. About half of India’s 31 states have drafted similar EV policies with varying degrees of progress.

The New Delhi government has recently removed the Nexon XZ + and Nexon XM from its list of 12 subsidized four-wheeled vehicles. Reason? Their bass range.

Tata said the 315-kilometer range of Nexon XZ + was confirmed by the official Indian Automobile Research Institute. However, the actual range depends on factors such as air conditioning, “individual driving styles, vehicle driving conditions”, the company said in a statement.

The EV market is growing at an annual rate of 20%, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., MG Motor India, Olectra Greentech Ltd., JBM Auto Ltd. Is dominated by five major players. Startups are also in the fight.

Local automakers are lagging behind in the production of EVs and their components, primarily due to lack of demand. The ones that jumped in depend primarily on cheap imports, and there are increasing complaints about poor quality.

Last year, India raised tariffs on imports of EVs and their components, including very important and expensive lithium-ion batteries. And other policies aim to encourage domestic production, improve quality and lower prices to the level of traditional cars.

Dozens of projects are underway with the attention of some domestic and foreign companies. Tata plans a $ 54 million lithium-ion production facility in Gujarat, India. Toshiba-Denzo-Suzuki of Japan has set up a factory in the western part of Gujarat, a hub for car manufacturing, to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for Maruti Suzuki and Suzuki’s car factories. Elon Musk recently announced plans for Tesla to set up an EV plant in southern India.

Moushumi Mohanty, head of electrical mobility at the Center for Science and Environment, a non-profit organization focused on sustainable development, said the lack of charging stations remains a major hurdle.

“For the supply side to work, governments need to develop a standardized regulatory framework for monitoring technology quality and safety parameters,” Mohanti added.

India has sought to follow the leadership of the United States, Japan and China in building the automotive industry, which already employs more than 35 million people directly or indirectly and contributes more than 7% to GDP. To help repair the pandemic damage, national leaders aim to double vehicle and parts exports over the next five years.

Efforts to increase EV usage are part of a global trend. According to the International Energy Agency, sales of such vehicles increased by 40% year-on-year in 2019, accounting for 2.6% of global vehicle sales, or about 1% of all vehicles.

But for the foreseeable future, the Indian EV market will continue to be in the area of ​​electric scooters and rickshaws that cost between $ 1,200 and $ 3,680 and require charging equipment like passenger cars.

Ashok Kumar switched from working on a printing press to driving an electric rickshaw three years ago after hearing that the New Delhi government was subsidizing it. However, he did not receive the promised rebate on the $ 1,770 electric rickshaw.

Kumar is keenly aware that he needs to earn as much income as possible every day until lunch time. Then he has to hurry home to charge his car.

He says it takes 12 hours of charging to get 5 hours of execution time.

“It’s absolutely useless,” he said of the e-rickshaw while waiting for customers outside the subway station.

So far, a city with a population of 31 million, New Delhi has only 72 active charging stations, with an additional 100 in the pipeline. This is not enough for cities planning to guarantee that a quarter of all new cars sold, regardless of size, are electric cars.

The problem is the worst for commercial vehicles that can’t afford to stop that day to charge. Most private EV owners consider public charging stations as a last resort and simply charge their car at home.

Jasmine Shah, vice chairman of the Delhi Dialogue Development Committee, a government think tank that leads the capital’s electric vehicle initiative, fends off such complaints. He said India needs EVs to improve the environment.

“We’re just focusing on creating demand for electric vehicles. The rest will continue,” Shah said.