Challenges associated with the proliferation of electric vehicles and measures to increase their market penetration

Challenges associated with the proliferation of electric vehicles and measures to increase their market penetration

Of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, 9 are located in India. All these cities, including Greater Noida, Noida, Lucknow, and Delhi, are located in North India. Although many factors contribute to this pollution being extremely harmful to the environment and human health, vehicular pollution plays a significant role in it.

It is therefore not surprising that the proliferation of electric vehicles is slowly but steadily being encouraged in India. Simultaneously, we are back to the earlier status quo in terms of our transportability. In the 1900s, the entire debate in favor of electric vehicles (EVs) was forced to succumb to fuel-based vehicles, but hopefully, this will no longer be the case.

In the year 1886, German engineer Karl Benz applied for his ‘gas engine powered vehicle’ and was also granted a patent (37435). A few months later, the commercial production of the ‘Benz Motor’ car started. Most evidence suggests that this was the beginning of the commercial production of vehicles powered by gas engines.

It is worth noting that a few years before Benz obtained the patent, a chemist from the ‘Iowa province’ of America, William Morrison was also successful in operating a six-seater electric vehicle. By 1900, electric cars accounted for more than a third of all vehicles sold in the US. A major setback to this advancement in electric cars came when Ford began mass-producing automobiles, which also had relatively low prices. Motorcars and bikes are currently plying on our roads indiscriminately due to the low cost of cars and low fuel costs due to widespread production in the early 1900s.

In the new scenario, with increasing support for electric vehicles, India needs to arm itself with better-charging infrastructure, battery manufacturing factories, and incentives for car companies and consumers to adopt electric vehicles.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Electric vehicles are powered by an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine and have a battery instead of a fuel tank.

In general, electric vehicles have lower operating costs because they have simpler operating procedures and are also environmentally friendly.

In India, the cost of fuel for an electric vehicle is around 80 paise per kilometer. In comparison, today, petrol-powered vehicles cost Rs 7-8 per kilometer in Indian cities with a petrol price of over Rs 100 per liter.

Opportunities in India

The private sector has welcomed the imperative of electric vehicles.
Companies like Amazon, Swiggy, and Zomato are increasingly using EVs for their delivery operations.
The partnership of a carmaker like Mahindra with a consumer services provider like Ola and Tata Motors with Blue Smart Mobility will ensure greater electric vehicle delivery and ride-hailing services.

Challenges associated with the proliferation of electric vehicles and measures to increase their market penetration

associated challenges

Lack of Charging Infrastructure: The most serious challenge related to electric vehicles is the lack of charging infrastructure in India.

Electric vehicles are usually powered by lithium-based batteries. These batteries usually need to be changed every 200-250 km. Hence the need for a denser spread of charging points.

Slow Charging Problem: It takes up to 12 hours to fully charge EVs at home using a personal light-duty slow charger. There are only select charging stations across the country as an alternative to this technical problem of slow charging at home.

For a large and densely populated country like India, the number of these charging stations is extremely insufficient.

Lack of a stable policy for electric vehicle production: Electric vehicle production is a capital-intensive sector, requiring long-term planning to achieve equity and profitability. The uncertainty of government policies related to electric vehicle production discourages investment in this industry.

Technological Challenges: India is technologically backward in terms of electronics production, while batteries, semiconductors, controllers, etc. are considered very important for the electric vehicle industry.

Lack of associated infrastructure support: Lack of clarity with regard to ‘AC vs DC’ charging stations, grid stability, and ‘range anxiety’ (fear that the battery will run out soon) are some of the other factors driving the growth of the electric vehicle industry. are interrupting.

Lack of availability of material for domestic production: Battery is the most important component of electric vehicles. India has no known reserves of lithium and cobalt, which are essential for battery production. India is dependent on countries like Japan and China for the import of lithium-ion batteries.

Shortage of skilled workers: EVs require frequent servicing and servicing requires a high level of skill. India lacks dedicated training courses for such skill development.

way ahead

Enhancing R&D in Electric Vehicles: The Indian market needs incentives for indigenous technologies that are India-friendly, both from a strategic and economic point of view.

Since investment in local R&D is necessary to bring down prices, it would be appropriate to seek the cooperation of local universities and existing industrial centers.

India should work closely with countries like the United Kingdom and harmonize the development of electric vehicles.

Making people aware: It is always challenging to break the old norms and create a new consumer behavior. Therefore, there is a need to make people aware and sensitized to allay the apprehensions prevailing in the Indian market and to promote electric vehicles.

Viable electricity pricing: ‘Home charging’ can also be a problem, given the current electricity prices. In order to reduce the cost of electricity, other options will have to be tried instead of coal-based thermal power plants.

Thus, the entire electricity generation landscape also needs to be changed to facilitate the development of electric cars.

It is heartening in this context that India is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s largest solar and energy storage markets by the year 2025.

The combination of solar-powered grid solutions will ensure adequate charging infrastructure as a green alternative.

Creating a closed-loop mobility ecosystem: Providing subsidies to manufacturing for the electric supply chain will certainly improve the growth scenario of electric vehicles in India.

Along with the charging infrastructure, a robust supply chain will also need to be established.

In addition, battery recycling stations will need to recover metals (which are used for electrification) from the battery, to form a ‘closed-loop.

It may be noted that companies in China and South Korea are the largest suppliers of lithium-based EV batteries. In such a situation, a new global system may emerge to replace the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

With better-charging infrastructure, battery manufacturing factories, and smart incentives for car companies and consumers to switch to electric, India needs to plan to find its rightful place in this new regime.

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