Doing business amidst India’s Electric Vehicle conundrum

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, when first launched in 2012 with a target of having 6-7 million electric/hybrid vehicles in India by 2020 wouldn’t have turned many heads in the sector. Five years down the line in 2017, with a new government at the helm, an announcement of having only Electric Vehicle(EV) sales by 2030 has definitely fueled speculation from all quadrants of the country. How else do we expect the sector to react, considering auto sector contributes to over 7% of GDP (~25% of manufacturing GDP), transport fuel accounts for 5% of the GDP and about 30 million direct and indirect jobs are at stake.

Ever since, the announcement was made, I have managed to keep track of the proceedings at both the central and state level with interactions with relevant stakeholders in the process.

The first discussion I had was with my colleague, Harsh Thacker, looking at the situation in India from a common citizen’s perspective.

A month down the line, Karnataka turned up with the country’s first policy on electric vehicles. It was a comprehensive policy looking at both the electric vehicles and energy storage sector.

I was also able to record the opinion of R V Deshpande, Minister for Industries, Gov. of Karnataka who was instrumental in bringing out the policy on EV and energy storage.

Simultaneously, the report commissioned by the Forum of Regulators to evaluate the impact of electric vehicles on the grid was released. Mahesh Patankar, who was the lead author in the study joined me for a discussion elaborating on the methods behind the study and why he the grid would be safe with an increasing EV penetration. The report worked on the premise, that India would have 6-7 million EVs by 2020, the only official target till date.

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala an adviser to the government of India who was one of the early proponents of the all EV vision shared his reasoning on what he calls Blind Men and an Elephant.

At the same time, the Industry body, SIAM released its white paper advocating an electric vehicle roadmap for the nation, which indirectly hinted that an all-electric vehicle fleet was not possible by 2030 and India could target the same by 2047, India’s 100th year of Independence.

Talking of industries, I happened to be part of a stakeholder consultation hosted by NITI Aayog who claims to have been given a mandate to formulate India’s electric vehicle programme. Awadesh Kumar Jha from Fortum India who has been evaluating the market for setting charging infrastructure was also part of the consultation. He joined me to discuss the outcomes of the stakeholder consultation.

Finally on a positive note, amidst the uncertainty on the policy front, the government sanctioned subsidy under the FAME programme to roll out electric buses. Funds for procurement of 390 buses were released with a deadline to place orders by end of March 2018. The state transport utilities proactively went ahead with bids and 3 companies won contracts for supply. I was glad to chat with Nikhil Dhamkar from Sun Mobility, who along with their JV partner Ashok Leyland will supply electric buses in Ahmedabad.

With the elections just a year away, we could expect some announcements in the EV space in the next few months, however, if we miss that, we could probably lose a year of action.

Image cty: Tesla

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Is it too late for a public consultation on Electric Vehicles (EV)?

NITI Aayog earlier this month released a Public Consultation document on Zero Emission Mobility. The document as it claims, aims to align with the Government of India’s vision to have a policy that facilitates a transition only Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sale in 2030. The consultation specifically seeks opinions on 12 aspects on the proposed policy namely

  • The global scenario of ZEV in the past few years and future forecasts in terms of technology and performance.
  • Prioritizing the first adopters of ZEV: Which category of vehicles should be prioritized, whether public of private fleet?
  • Charging Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing: Policy options to promote manufacturing of EVs and batteries
  • Balancing energy demand for EVs with influx of Renewable Energy (RE)
  • Regulatory reforms/amendments
  • Fiscal and non-fiscal incentives
  • Promoting Research & Development (R&D) in EV and energy storage
  • Skill development
  • Recycling and treatment at end of life of EV and battery
  • The general user perspective of EVs
  • Potential impact on the automobile industry

NITI Aayog’s open consultation is a welcome step considering it is looking to formulate a road-map that involves multiple government ministries. For once, it is a real test of its ability to break the silos in the government and get every ministry on board through this policy, the very purpose it was entrusted to do at inception.

India’s ambitious Electric Vehicle vision: What does it mean?

Is it too late?

As it stands, the draft of the national Electric Vehicle (EV) policy was first submitted to the inter-ministerial group around September-October 2017. There has been no traction at the ministry level ever since. In the mean time, Karnataka has come up with a comprehensive policy on energy storage and electric vehicles and Telangana is close to releasing its policy.

Irrespective of what happens with the existing draft of the EV policy, there is not much that can get into it from the public consultation that NITI Aayog is currently hosting unless the proposal is any radical step. Sources from the team have already confirmed to me that they are already aware of the popular schemes and are definitely not keen to hear them again through this process. On the other side, the entire process could actually delay the release of a policy. It is definitely a welcome step to open the doors for public consultation, but NITI Aayog should focus its efforts on plugging the regulatory hurdles that are already known. It would enable private players to actual invest and create a market rather than wait for a full policy. All said, now that an opportunity is given, I will definitely submit my views.

Reference:Zero Emission Mobility. (Full document)

 

Karnataka Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy

The Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage policy announced by the state government of Karnataka is well ahead of even the Indian government’s proposed Electric Vehicle policy. The opening lines of the policy declare that Government of Karnataka wishes to make Bengaluru, the Electric Vehicle (EV) capital of India.

Check the link to know more about India’s Electric Vehicle Vision

The statement from the Government of Karnataka looks ambitious, but considering what Bengaluru, the silicon valley of India, has managed to achieve with the IT sector and subsequently turn into a start-up capital, the statement could in fact have more substance than what meets the eye. In the past few years, there has been an upspring of start-ups not only in the IT space but also in alternate energy and electric vehicles in the region.

A key characteristic feature of this policy happens to be the fact it tries to integrate energy storage manufacturing which is key to fostering an electric vehicle industry. The proposed policy as expected is filled with incentives and concession packages to lure investments. The policy has a validity of 5 years or until a new policy is announced.

The policy document intends to align with the national objective of having an all-electric vehicle fleet by 2030. In addition to reducing the dependency on crude oil consumption, where in 80% of India s oil requirement is imported and about 1/3rd of it is used in the transportation sector; the policy also emphasizes to reduce emissions in the sector by promoting EVs, which is laudable. Incidentally there is a mention of recent World Health Organization report that says India is home to 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Highlights of the policy

Listen to the conversation to know more.

  • A key major objective of the policy is attracting investments of around 31,000 Crore (about 5Bn$) and employ 55,000 people in the sector.
  • EV manufacturing zones and clusters with complete infrastructural facilities is envisaged like in similar automobile manufacturing.
  • Three wheelers, cab aggregators, corporate fleets and school buses/vans are to be encouraged to shift to electric transportation. Already, non-transport private vehicles are exempt from paying taxes under the Karnataka motor vehicles act. Also, the national committee is evaluating the proposal to use standard batteries for public vehicles like 3 wheeler rickshaws. These are likely to aid this objective.
  • Similarly public fleet operators will introduce 1000 EV buses during the policy period with Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation proposed to have EV fleet services within city by 2018.
  • An emphasis on EVs has been made for goods transportation within city limits operated by logistics firms. Logistics firms operating with e-commerce platforms are likely to benefit.
  • Battery manufacturing will be facilitated by the Karnataka Udyog Mitra who will operate an online clearance system with special incentives for modular lithium ion batteries.
  • The policy proposes to adopt BIS standards for setting up charging infrastructure with proposal to amend any existing bylaws to setup charging stations in public buildings.
  • The government will encourage industry and academia to undertake research in this space and setup charging infrastructure that adheres to ARAI/BIS standards.
  • A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) involving different government agencies in Bangalore will be mooted to setup charging infrastructure in the city.
  • A special tariff is likely to be proposed for EV charging in the state including proposals to permit energy resale at charging stations. This is an interesting proposal considering there are regulatory hurdles before any such proposal can go through even at the central level.
  • Fast charging stations and battery swapping networks at every 50km interval to be established on prominent highways of the state including Bangalore-Mysore is also proposed.
  • Public bus and metro stations to have EV charging infrastructure.
  • The policy also intends to encourage lease or pay-per-use business models for battery swapping stations. A few companies in the state are already evaluating the business proposition of swappable batteries.
  • An end of life battery use for solar PV applications is also envisaged including a safe disposal mechanism in Public-Private Partnership model.
  • On the manufacturing side for batteries the state has declared a target of inviting investments up to the tune of 5GWh, which is expected to generate a net employment of over 10,000.
  • Special incentives for skill development in battery manufacturing is also proposed.
    • An Investment Promotion Subsidy (IPS) in the range of 20-25% of total fixed assets shall be provided to manufacturers of EV components.
    • The Investment Promotion Subsidy will be available over and above any subsidy offered by Government of India (GoI).
    • Total exemption on payment of stamp duty, concession on land registration charges, reimbursement of land conversion fee and exemption from tax on electricity tariff are other incentives proposed.
  • A special package of incentives and concessions will be considered for Ultra Mega and Super Mega EV enterprises/Lithium ion battery manufacturers catering to exclusively for EV market based on investment and employment potential.
  • All project proposals and incentives will be subject to the approval of technical committee. A high level inter departmental review committee will also be constituted to regularly review the progress of developments under this policy.
  • Incentives in the form of capital subsidy up to the tune of 25% of capital investment for the first 50-100 fast charging, battery-swapping stations depending on the type of EV served.

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Cover image :Tesla Energy