As India looks to reduce its oil dependency and its oil import bill, electrification and other technologies in vehicles will play a crucial role going forward. While globally, the talks around EVs and electric cars take the centre stage, India needs to think long-term strategy in place to deal with the rising pollution caused due to vehicles. The Indian government has made its stance clear on the use of alternative fuel in vehicles and is looking to electrify mobility. Recently GST council reduced the taxes on batteries and going forward we will soon see the implementation of FAME II scheme being implemented that will further push electric and hybrid vehicle sales in India.
R.C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India says that in the current scenario of global events it is important for devising and putting a long-term mobility policy in place. "Political events have shown how fragile energy security is and how easily the price and supply of oil can be adversely affected for importing countries like India," he said in the company's Annual Report. The constant rise in the price of crude oil has increased the burden on trading. He also believes that "the government’s decision to push electric vehicles to replace internal combustion engine driven vehicles was essentially designed to reduce the risks associated with the import of crude from a few countries." R.C Bhargava has already confirmed that Maruti Suzuki will make electric cars in India and the company will roll out the first electric car in India in 2020.
As India's economy grows, the need for mobility will go up and so will the oil imports. Pollution from cars is still a very small part of India's total pollution. However, carmakers have taken pro-active measures to build cars that emit lesser emissions and offer higher fuel efficiency. Maruti Suzuki says that on its new cars it has managed to reduce the CO2 emissions drastically. On the Maruti Suzuki Dzire the CO2 emission levels have dropped by 6.4% on diesel-powered variants and by 5.2% on the petrol variants. On the all-new Maruti Suzuki Swift, the company claims that it has managed to get down the CO2 emissions by 11.3% when compared to the older Swift.
However, with the increase in car population in India, there will be more pollution and India needs a long-term strategy that would mitigate these risks, both in the short term and the long-term says, Bhargava.
India is a cost-sensitive market, over 75% of the cars sold in India are sub-4-meter in length and cost less than Rs 6.5 lakh (ex-Showroom) says Maruti Suzuki. Electrification of these cars in the short-term will be based on the cost of the technology. Currently, making an electric car in India is an expensive proposition and the bigger challenge lies in developing the charging infrastructure across the country. Gradually, as the number of electric cars in India goes up, there will also be a very large number of cars on ICE still on sale.
R.C Bhargava said that "in the longer term these cars would be electrified, subject to the battery and other technology development leading to the affordability barrier being overcome. It would obviously be better to use alternative technologies and fuels that reduce the consumption of petrol and diesel, rather than produce only electric cars and internal combustion cars."
Many cities in India including Delhi has a huge population of cars with CNG which has proven itself as a clean fuel. Hybrid cars, cars with hydrogen fuel cell and also ethanol and methanol-powered vehicles hold promise to fuel mass production vehicles in the near future.