India: Gearing Up for an Electric Era

This shift is not only restricted to private vehicles. The government is also planning to create tenders for 25,000 electric rickshaws. (Image: Narendra Modi  via  flickr  CC BY-SA 2.0)
This shift is not only restricted to private vehicles. The government is also planning to create tenders for 25,000 electric rickshaws. (Image: Narendra Modi via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

India’s auto industry is set to start a new chapter in its 67-year-old journey. With the aim to reduce vehicular pollution and traffic congestion, the government of India has issued policies and set out strict rules for the auto manufacturers to shift to a 100 percent production of electric vehicles by 2030.

This shift is not only restricted to private vehicles. The government is also planning to create tenders for 25,000 electric rickshaws (a three-wheeler public transport vehicle that seats up to 4 passengers), which are the most frequently used mode of public transport in major cities and one of the leading causes of inner-city traffic.

The natural transition

A lot of research and development has already been put into creating cost-effective and sustainable electric technology and batteries by many Indian car manufacturers, like Mahindra & Mahindra, Reva Electric Car Company, Ola and Lohia Auto. As a result, it will soon become cheaper to manufacture electric cars and rickshaws compared to the production of current petrol and diesel automobiles.

A lot of research and development has already been put into creating cost-effective and sustainable electric technology and batteries by many Indian car manufacturers like Reva Electric Car.

A lot of research and development has already been put into creating cost-effective and sustainable electric technology and batteries by many Indian car manufacturers, like Reva Electric Car. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

This shift is considered a “natural evolution” by the Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the most popular car brand purchased in India. India has already committed to the Paris Accord, which aims to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and combat the global climate change issue. Consequently, it has established the Bharat Stage VI emission standards for the local auto industry in order to honor its commitments.

The government is gearing up to improve its charging infrastructure and facility. Multiple government faculties — such as the Central Electricity Authority, Power Ministry, the Power and New and Renewable Energy Department, as well as the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways — are working together to create a well-functioning and sustainable ecosystem for electric vehicles and transportation. The government also plans to refund taxes to the manufacturers of electric cars and related technology to encourage and foster faster growth.

Bharat stage VI

The government has established certain emission standards for auto manufacturers in India to adhere to in a step-by-step process. These stages are designed following the European example and increase the restrictions on the number of pollutants allowed to be released by oil and automobile companies with each phase. Basically, automobile manufacturers in India will be responsible for all car emissions and need to create vehicles that follow the rules of each phase. This step is essential, as India has to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35 percent (from its 2005 levels) by 2030.

An electric bus in Bangalore, India. (Image: Ramesh NG via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

An electric bus in Bangalore, India. (Image: Ramesh NG via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s a formidable task for India’s auto industry, as the work requires tremendous effort to build the technology from scratch. For auto companies that already have international headquarters in Europe or Japan and are well-established in the Indian market, the task isn’t as challenging, as the technology already exists in the European market and they simply need to adapt it to the Indian norms.

A new era

This will be a significant shift in the journey of India’s auto industry, as manufacturers will be responsible for the carbon emission of their vehicles. This means that companies need to give proper care and service before and even after the purchase of their cars. The on-road performance of the car will be just as important as the development of a clean technology.

The intent of all these policy changes and efforts to push development in the industry is right on target; however, there needs to be an equal impetus on the creation of public infrastructure that supports this new era. Importance should also be given to the education of the population to embrace these new changes, as new technology for cars will initially increase the final cost price. The cost of the car remains to be the most important factor that dictates the general consumer buying trend.

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