India aims to convert 30 percent of all wheels to electric by 2030. However, in a country where coal generated power is still one of the primary sources of energy and EV costs are still on the steeper side, faster adoption of electric vehicles comprises coming together of many factors.
In a bid to get a better insight about the evolving dynamics of the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem in India, The Financial Express hosted the 2nd edition of FE Electric Mobility Summit 2022 on November 17. The event touched upon key aspects of the electrification gameplan.
Speaking during the inaugural session of the day-long Summit Randheer Singh, Director, Electric Mobility & Senior Team Member for Advanced Chemistry Cells Program for the government’s think tank NITI Aayog highlighted the importance of reusing and recycling Li-ion batteries given the recent spike, “Price of lithium has gone up six times since December 2021. India is exploring developing the processing of raw material, reuse and recycle of lithium-ion batteries.”
Studies indicate that the global battery recycling market size is expected to be valued at $66.6 billion by 2030. Singh said that the government is working to bring foreign battery recycling companies to our shores, hinting that details will be “out in few weeks.”
Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI was the next speaker and outlined how switching to renewable energy will make both environmental and economic sense for our country in the jouyrney towards electrification. “Solar power is India’s top bet amongst renewable energy”, added Dhawan highlighting the natural advantage that India has in terms of access to solar power.
Manish Raj Singhania, President, FADA, speaking during the next panel discussion on “Can India become an EV Hub for the World”, opined that the FAME II policy should be extended for two years as the same period was somewhat lost due to the pandemic. Further, Singhania noted that swappable batteries are amongst the top bets to escalate EV adoption in the country.
Speaking on the topic, Akash Passey, President – Bus Division, VECV highlighted the steady pace of growth in terms of electrification, even in the shared mobility space. He is expecting “50,000 electric buses over the next five years,” outlining the brisk rate of adoption.
However, affordability is a key concern in this context. While the running cost of EVs no doubt offer a price advantage, production cost is still an uphil road. The battery comprises nearly 40-50 percent of an EV cost and currently lithium ion is what’s used as a tandard. Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina have the largest estimated resources for Li-ion battery packs. Sharing his insight on the issue, Panasonic India’s Head of Energy System Division, Atul Arya, raised concerns over the rising raw material prices but reiterated that “when ecosystem is set, we’ll recycle these,” in the country.
That led to the discussion on the next panel – “Localising EV supply chain – Challenges & Opportunities”. Ramanathan V of ZF Group pointed out that “India is very challenging market in terms of cost.” Offering options on ways to bring down cost, Saket Sapra of Dana TM4 India added that there is “need to optimise bill of material; 80% is localised.” Uday Narang of Omega Seiki Mobility also revealed that his company “will soon build in-house cells for batteries.”
When localisation and battery costs are being discussed, a point of view on “Battery swapping or fixed charging: The right solution for India?” was not far behind, also the topic for the third panel discussion of the day. Akash Gupta of Zypp Electric believs that “charging at home is not the best solution, swapping the next level of evolution.”
However Arvind Chandra of Spark Minda added that the “economy needs to be geared to enable faster EV adoption,” while Divay Pranav of Yulu felt the “Govt should push for electrification of shared mobility.”
Offering a little perspective of actuals, Sudhanshu Agrawal of Piaggio Vehicles India highled that: “Running cost of EVs is still much lower, despite paying a premium of Rs 1 lakh.”
The fourth and the final panel of the day-long event delved on “new business models to accelerate EV ecosystem.” While the jury is still out on whether battery swapping can accelerate the pace of adoption and would also address the cost and concerns with respect to faster EV adoption, the speakers were unanimous in highlighting the need for thorough tests before launching and as Manoj Modani Of Automotive test Systems said, “only good tech and players would survive,” in the long run.