Hero, Bajaj, TVS say e-mobility transition could undermine Make in India

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New Delhi | June 25, 2019 5:28 AM

Say 100% transition uncalled for; caution Make in India could be undermined.

automobile sector, automobile industryThe government wants electric three-wheelers on the roads by 2023 and electric two-wheelers — for vehicles with a capacity of up to 150 cc — by 2025.

Makers of two- and three-wheelers, including Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor, on Monday lashed out at the government over the proposed timelines for the rollout of electric vehicles and the near-total ban on internal combustion engines (ICE).

They expressed concerns over the potential loss of jobs, cautioning that Make in India could be seriously undermined and also noted it was unfair that passenger cars were not being subjected to similar conditions.

The government wants electric three-wheelers on the roads by 2023 and electric two-wheelers — for vehicles with a capacity of up to 150 cc — by 2025. Smaller bikes and scooters account for 80% of the sector.

“This is not like Aadhaar, not a software and print cards. You have to set up a whole supply chain, and migrate from the current supply chain,” TVS Motor CMD Venu Srinivasan observed in a comment to PTI.

“We have said we will take four months to come with a plan. The plans will start with one city (that has the highest number of two-wheeler population) and that too, to a percentage of one city and migrate over a period of time,” Srinivasan said.

Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj said on a leading business channel he believed a100% transition is completely uncalled for. “I am shocked because internal combustion engine (ICE) of Indian two and three-wheelers that are the global benchmark for low emission and high fuel efficiency must be banned within the next few years with scant deliberation on where the unemployed are to go or from where the electricity for charging is to come,” he said.

Government think-tank NITI Aayog, at a meeting with the industry on June 21, had rebuffed its reservations. It has asked them to suggest within two weeks concrete steps for the transition by 2025.

The companies believe the the policy has been framed without adequate study and due diligence. Asserting that a “black or white, zero-one change” is not possible “with 20 million vehicles, $15 billion in sales, 1 million employees”, Srinivasan added that the proposal had not been thought through. “I hope saner thoughts will prevail and people will think through the real implications of all this,” he observed.

While favouring all monetary and other incentives for the EV industry, Bajaj, however, asserted he was totally opposed to any mandatory ban of conventional two and three-wheelers. “The unshakeable fact is that our industry is world-class, for it makes the lowest emission and highest fuel efficiency vehicles in the world,” Bajaj observed.

Also read: Niti Aayog asks scooter, bike makers to draw up plan for EVs

He also asserted the move was impractical and ill-timed, considering the scale involved when stakeholders did not have “any meaningful experience with any of the pieces of the EV puzzle” and that, too, a date so close to BS VI implementation. Bajaj has argued that to target two and three wheelers but not cars makes it an incomplete initiative.

Srinivasan asserted that “changing to batteries running on thermal power will not reduce one iota of pollution”. Right now, he said “two-wheelers contribute to 20% of automotive pollution. The automotive industry contributes 20% of overall pollution, so we are dealing with 4% pollution”.

He further pointed out that the Indian automotive industry has attracted large foreign investments based on stability of policies. “We are dealing with the most competitive and the only industry to have really grown to that scale and competitiveness in the engineering industry,” he added.

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