NEW DELHI: India may be touted as the next big market for electric vehicles (EV) but they will find the going tough for the next decade in the world’s third-largest oil-guzzling economy due to dominance of affordable cars and absence of meaningful policy drive for new energy mobility.
According to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), EVs will make up only 7% of annual vehicle sales in India by 2030. Sales will gather pace after this and reach 27% of annual vehicle sales by 2040, by which time 13% of passenger vehicles in the country will be EVs.
In contrast, the BNEF ‘Outlook for EVs 2018’ sees EVs constituting 41% of annual vehicle sales in China by 2030. The world’s secondlargest oil consumer has already emerged as the largest EV market globally, selling 777,000 EVs in 2017, representing 49% of global passenger EV sales in 2017.
Unlike China, there were just under 6,000 highway-capable passenger EVs on India’s roads at the end of 2017 when annual sales stood at 2,000 units. By 2022, however, the report sees EV sales rising to 30,000 units a year, driven primarily by government and corporate procurement programmes.
According to the report, adoption of EVs in India has been hamstrung by uncertain policy support mechanisms, lack of access to reliable charging service, unreliable power supply and inability of discoms to invest in charging stations due to poor financial health. It is only now that state-run companies are testing the waters with scattered pilot-size EV charging projects.
But unlike India, EVs are flying off the shelves in China on the back of strong policy push and hefty subsidies. The country’s two state-owned utilities – State Grid Corporation of China and China Southern Power Grid – have heavily invested in charging infrastructure. China had rolled out its nationwide New Energy Vehicle subsidy programme in 2015.
India, on the other hand, moved in fits and starts. Power, coal and renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal had in March 2016 announced that the government was considering plans to achieve 100% EV sales by 2030. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari backed this by suggesting car makers redesign their future production plans. But last year, the government said it would leave it to the market to decide the pace of change. Finally in January, the heavy industries ministry told Parliament that the government had no official EV target for 2030.
The government revised regulations to enable private investment in charging infrastructure recently but lack of coordination among its different wings, unreliable electricity supply and lack of demand due to the low number of EVs hamper private investment.