To promote electric vehicles on a mass scale, the government is holding initial talks with Japanese investment firm SoftBank for low interest funding of 2 lakh electric buses for public transport, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said here today. India wants to cut down on a ballooning Rs 7 lakh crore crude import bill, the minister said, adding electric buses and vehicles along with ethanol and other green fuel could be the solution. “Promoting electric vehicles is priority of our government. We want electric buses, autorickshaws and other vehicles to ply in the country. We are engaged in initial talks with SoftBank for loans at low interest rate for a green project.
We want to introduce 2 lakh electric buses for public transport,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said. He also said that the low interest rate funding is similar to what government did in case of major port JNPT. Gadkari said that the government wants to promote import substitute which is pollution free and cost-effective for an indigenous transport system.
He was addressing the media here before the launch of a pilot project for 200 electric vehicles including 100 of Mahindra’s new e20 plus.
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He said the target was to reduce the ticket fare of public transport by 50 per cent in the country. Research is on to produce lithium and other advanced batteries at a cheaper rate which would be made easily available, the minister said adding, India is now a coal and electricity surplus nation and must promote green fuel. He said charging electric vehicles won’t be an issue as charging stations are being set up.
The size of the automobile industry, which is at Rs 4.5 lakh crore, is estimated to grow to Rs 25 lakh crore and stress should be laid to promote environment-friendly vehicles that causes minimum pollution, he said. Gadkari said that a vehicle scrapping policy is on the anvil which will result in getting rid of polluting vehicles more than 15 years old, thereby curbing the high pollution level of 68 per cent caused by heavy commercial vehicles.