The manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs) in India will increase its dependence on China for raw materials, mineral processing, and battery production, a report by economic think tank Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) has said.
China has bought the largest lithium mines in Australia and South America. It processes more than 60% of the lithium produced globally. It also processes 65% of cobalt and 93% of manganese.
China makes three out of four batteries produced globally, it said, adding over 100 Chinese battery units make 60% of the cathodes and 80% of the anodes used in lithium-ion cells.
The report pointed out that EVs have implications on jobs and pollution and it identified 13 issues related to interests of consumers, industry, and the government for an evaluation.
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The issues include high prices of these vehicles, fitness of EVs for a long journey, performance under extreme weather, increase in power demand, less fit for public transport, increased dependence on China, no reduction in pollution, disruption of the auto component sector, and inadequate availability of lithium.
“EVs with lithium-ion batteries are at best a work-in-progress innovation. We must understand the long term impact of EVs on jobs, pollution levels, imports, and economic growth,” GTRI co-founder Ajay Srivastava said.
On the pollution issue, it explained that a typical 500 kilogram lithium car battery uses 12 kg of lithium, 15 kg of cobalt, 30 kg of nickel, 44 kg of copper, and 50 kg of graphite.
It also uses about 200 kg of steel, aluminium, and plastics. Mining extraction, transport, and processing of these materials release pollutants and CO2, leading to air and water pollution, it added.
“The battery’s life is 6-7 years; after which it needs to be recycled. Recycling is complex as the battery contains many toxic materials that are challenging to dispose of. Firms promoting EVs talk about zero tail-pipe emissions but are silent on mining and disposal costs,” the report said.
Further, it said that EVs will only increase pollution as the batteries are charged from coal-generated electricity.
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India generates 60% of electricity from fossil fuels like coal and petroleum, and of this, coal accounts for 50%.
“Electric cars only make sense when most power comes from renewable energy,” it said, adding that EVs will disrupt India’s auto-component industry with 700 organised and 10,000 unorganised manufacturers.
It also said that EVs will end the existence of lakhs of shops/garages selling spare parts, changing oil, and servicing vehicles.
Further, it said that EV is not a global phenomenon and the push for it is coming from Europe, which is introducing the carbon border adjustment mechanism to protect their polluting industry and disrupt global trade.
“There is no standardisation in the charging port for electric scooters. Each firm issues its charging port model. Unless the charging ports are standardised, each maker has to set up separate charging infra across the country,” it added.