The capital cost of making electric vehicles would be on a par with petrol/diesel vehicles in five years and India would be importing electric vehicles if it does not develop the ecosystem, said Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Principal Advisor, Ministry of Power & New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. “Electric vehicles will be the future of transportation in the country. They have significantly higher energy efficiency when compared to petrol/diesel vehicles and can be more reliable going forward,” he said speaking at the Freedom Talk on ‘Role of Digitisation and ECommerce in Indian Economic Growth’ organised by TANSTIA-FNF Service Centre (TFSC) and Friedrich- Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit. Mr. Jhunjhunwala also noted with the battery prices falling, electric vehicles would be most sought after in the next 5-6 years, and warned that if India waited till that time, it would end up importing electric vehicles instead of oil. Countries like Germany, China and the U.S. are already focusing on electric vehicles, he noted.
He also said that one of the key challenges is the issue of subsidies for development of electric vehicles. “World over, electric vehicles are made possible with 30-40% federal/State subsidy. “However, India cannot afford such a subsidy and should look at an alternative route for development of electric vehicles,” he said. “When we first told businesses that it was impossible in India to get similar subsidies, they were sceptical. The focus was on increasing the efficiency of the vehicles by using better quality motors and tyres, better aerodynamics and reducing the weight,” he said. Mr. Jhunjhunwala said that by following those steps there was a 30-40% improvement in the efficiency of electric vehicles (autos and buses). The other challenge is in the form of battery and one of the solutions was to split the battery into smaller sizes and swap them with a fully recharged battery when they run out.