More incentives needed for shift to EVs in public transport, here’s why

The viability gap funding available at present is not enough to cover the cost differences between electric buses and the internal combustion engine buses, Ramamurthy pointed out. He also said that for the next two to three years, government support will be crucial for buying or hiring of electric buses.

By:Updated: Aug 12, 2020 10:22 AM
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Electric vehicle (EV) adoption recently received a boost with the Delhi government announcing its new EV policy under which it will provide incentives of up to Rs 1.5 lakh. More such incentives are needed to ramp up electrification of the country’s public transport fleet as operators are under stress and are not in a position to invest for the shift to electric, mobility experts have said. K Ramamurthy, chief engineer, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, said they had plans to introduce 500 electric buses but unless there were some special incentives, e-vehicle introduction was now looking difficult because of the financial crunch of transport undertakings. The viability gap funding available at present is not enough to cover the cost differences between electric buses and the internal combustion engine buses, he pointed out. For the next two to three years, government support will be crucial for buying or hiring of electric buses, Ramamurthy said.

This was because their existing fleet was running at less than 50% capacity and their revenues had halved. Besides, they had to bear additional costs for safety and hygiene. SA Sundaresan, V-P, EV & e-Mobility Solutions, Ashok Leyland, said they expected to see a slowdown in the contracts they have bagged or deals they are negotiating. The ramp-up of e-buses with state undertakings would take a longer time now, Sundaresan said. They spoke at a webinar organised by the VDMA India, the German machinery and plant manufacturers’ association on automotive electrification after Covid-19. While the public transport undertakings were under stress, the personal mobility segment was expected to see a smoother shift to Evs. Sulajja Firodia Motwani, founder and CEO, Kinetic Green Energy and Power Solutions, said the Indian market will be largely driven by electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers.

The e-commerce segment was emerging as a major customer in the e-mobility segment for their last-mile deliveries, Motwani said. Also, the post-Covid focus on health and pollution has raised awareness regarding electric vehicles and would accelerate the process to e-mobility, Motwani added. Rajeev Randive, CMD, Pixy Electric Cars, two-wheelers have a huge potential and shall become a cottage industry with many assemblers fed by suppliers of components. “I forsee a massive increase in e-commerce and food delivery services, which will push demand for light vehicles like Tata Ace/Maruti Carry. Cars like Swift Dzire, which are popular as taxi shall see good acceptace of EVs,” Randive said. Prasanna Patwardhan, president, Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI), said the government has been increasing cess on fossil fuels which benefits EVs because when diesel prices goes up, the viability of electric vehicles also goes up.

“It is a matter of time and once awareness about advantages of electric bus is known to passengers and operators alike, they will start buying new EVs and start replacing old diesel vehicles with electric, he said. According to Vineet Martin, principal, automotive and industrial, Euro Asia Consulting, the e-vehicle landscape of the country at present has 17 OEMs, 57 models and 24,223 vehicles. Ten states had come out with EV policies and incentives worth `70.1 crore was given, which worked out to an average incentive of Rs 28,000 per vehicle.

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