July 29, 2022
“The major roadblock to successful EV adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure which is discouraging consumers” as spoken by Mr. Rakesh Chopra, Managing Director, Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments Limited.
He was speaking at a webinar organised by CUTS International as part of their project Accelerating Electric Vehicle Adoption in India (EV Raj) that aimed to identify current supply and demand side gaps impeding the transition to Electric Vehicles (EV) in the state of Rajasthan. The project also aimed to analyse various policy practices (policy interventions, regulations, non-legislative steps, innovative regulatory mechanisms, and collaborative efforts from corporates) in the EV space.
Speaking at this event, Mr. Chopra also highlighted the various government initiatives such as the PLI scheme for battery manufacturers especially those involved in advanced cell chemistry such as li-ion batteries. This is largely to bring down the battery price which is the major component of an EV, contributing heavily to their high upfront costs. He also spoke on reimbursement of SGST on EVs, the GST on charging stations which had been reduced from 18% to 5% along with road tax exemption for EVs. He was followed by Mr. Dinesh Pahadia, General Manager, Rajasthan State Industrial Development & Investment Corporation Ltd. (RIICO), Rajasthan who spoke about additional benefits for EVs such as a 5% interest subsidy provided by the state government of Rajasthan for 5 years as well as a capital subsidy of ₹25lakhs for 5 years for EV manufacturing units. Coming to the initiatives taken by RIICO, “For EV charging station, RIICO is also providing land at 50% of the prevailing rate at their industrial areas.” He also mentioned how they had developed an EV Zone at Karoli in Rewari village of Rajasthan on 60 acres of land where Electric two-wheeler manufacturer Okinawa launched a manufacturing facility. Apart from this, they are also in the process of developing Auto Zones where they are expecting two and three-wheeler manufacturers Hence, a manufacturing ecosystem is in place in Rajasthan, especially in RIICO industrial areas.
In the panel discussion that followed, several questions regarding barriers to EV adoption in India as well as Rajasthan were addressed. To this, Mr. Sunil Bhatnagar, Director, Sanvaru Technology Ltd., Haryana said that EVs – like any other disruptive technology require some time to reach their tipping point and find mass adoption. This process can be hastened by government interventions to facilitate EV adoption since the technology is capital intensive which raises their one-time upfront cost.” He also stressed the need for proper guidelines for charger sockets for electric vehicle battery charging.
Taking the discussion ahead, Mr. Rakesh Tyagi, Director of Training and Skills at AVL India Pvt. Limited pointed out that if the EV industry only depends on importing electric vehicles and their related products like- batteries, spare parts, etc then the adoption of electric vehicles will not gain the required momentum. Therefore, indigenisation of EV manufacturing is the need of the hour along with awareness generation. He further added, “ Consumers, as well as the government, cannot gain financial success as long as the entire EV manufacturing industry is dependent on imports alone. So, the maximum portion of manufacturing of EVs and their related parts should be done within the country.”
Sharing his perspective was Mr. Akash Sharma, an assistant policy analyst at CUTS International, who spoke about the steps that could be taken to address battery manufacturing and import dependence concerns in a country like India where lithium is sparsely available and has to be largely imported. “While the majority of the lithium is concentrated in South American Countries, Australia and China -90% of the refinement market is captured by China which enjoys a monopoly. To overcome this, we must focus on R&D.” He also spoke about exploring cheaper alternative forms of advanced battery chemistry like lithium-iron-phosphate and sodium-ion batteries to reduce the dependence on li-ion batteries.
Mr. Arun Kumar Verma, Assistant Professor at Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur spoke about the importance and the need to transition to EVs in light of the rising cost of crude oil globally. He also stressed that the government should reduce the charges in toll tax on electric vehicles.
The session also provided insights into government plans regarding converting part of now-defunct Post Offices into EV charging stations along with mass deployment of E-buses in various cities of India in a phased manner to gain consumer confidence in EVs.
The session concluded with all panelists and participants identifying four major ways of enhancing EV adoption which were improving R&D on EV technology and battery, deploying more charging infrastructure, innovative policies to attract consumers to the EV segment as well as organising more awareness campaigns and interactive sessions like this that brings together multiple stakeholders of the EV Ecosystem.
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