India’s electric mobility plan is largely focussed on battery electric vehicles (BEVs) replacing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with Li-ion seen as the most viable battery option for now.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Electric Vehicles (EVs)
- Major Schemes/Initiatives for Promoting EVs in India
- Issues in BEV push
- Alternatives to BEVs
Electric Vehicles (EVs):
- An electric vehicle uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion.
- It can be powered by self-contained batteries, solar panels, or an electric generator.
Origin and Increasing Scope in India:
- The push for EVs is driven by global climate agendas, such as the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming.
- The global adoption of EVs has been rapidly increasing.
- In 2020, around 2.1 million EVs were sold worldwide, and the global EV fleet reached 8.0 million.
- Falling battery costs and improved performance efficiency are contributing to the growing demand for EVs.
Types of EVs:
- Hybrid EVs (HEVs): These vehicles combine a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric propulsion system, resulting in lower fuel usage. Example: Toyota Hyryder in India.
- Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs): PHEVs have a hybrid drivetrain that uses both an ICE and electric power. They can be charged by plugging into a power source. Example: Chevrolet Volt.
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): BEVs run solely on electric power and do not have an ICE or fuel tank. They are powered by rechargeable batteries. Example: Tata Nexon in India, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S.
- Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs): FCVs use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, with water being the only byproduct. Example: Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity.
EV Sales in India:
- Over the past three years, there has been a remarkable growth of over 2,218% in EV sales in India.
- Currently, EVs make up around 5% of total vehicle sales in the country.
- In the 2022-23 fiscal year, cumulative sales of EVs in India exceeded 1 million units for the first time.
- Two-wheelers account for more than 60% of all EV sales in India.
- The government has set ambitious targets for EV sales by 2030, aiming for 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial vehicles, and 80% of two and three-wheelers to be electric.
- The promotion of e-mobility in India aligns with the objectives of reducing emissions and decreasing reliance on costly fuel imports.
Major Schemes/Initiatives for Promoting EVs in India:
- National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMPP) 2020: Launched in 2013 with targets for electric vehicle adoption and reduction of oil imports and CO2 emissions.
- Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India (FAME India) scheme: Launched in 2015 to promote the manufacturing and adoption of electric and hybrid vehicle technology through subsidies.
- Production-linked incentive (PLI) Scheme – National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage: Aims to boost the domestic manufacturing of advanced chemistry cell batteries for electric vehicles.
- Go Electric Campaign: Launched to raise awareness about the benefits of electric mobility and inform potential EV owners about government incentives.
Issues in BEV push:
- Subsidies and Tax Breaks: Electric vehicle adoption is often driven by state subsidies and tax breaks. However, these incentives tend to benefit the middle and upper-middle classes, who are typically the buyers of battery electric 4-wheelers, leaving out other sections of society.
- Charging Infrastructure: Investing in charging infrastructure is crucial for electric vehicle adoption. A World Bank analysis has shown that it is more effective in promoting EV adoption than providing upfront purchase subsidies. In India, the number of public charging stations is still limited, with only about 2,000 operational across the country.
- Dominance of Two- and Three-Wheelers: The vehicle mix in India is dominated by two- and three-wheelers. Unlike cars and buses, most electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers are suited to slow charging. Battery-swapping is emerging as an alternative for cases where fast charging is required.
- Electricity Source: In countries that have successfully promoted EVs, a significant portion of electricity is generated from renewable sources. For example, Norway relies heavily on hydroelectric power. In India, the grid is still largely powered by coal-fired thermal plants, which raises concerns about the environmental impact of charging electric vehicles.
- Lithium Supply: More than 90% of global lithium production is concentrated in a few countries, including Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Australia, and China. This concentration poses a risk for India, as it would be heavily dependent on imports from a limited pool of countries to meet its lithium demand.
Alternatives to BEVs:
- Hybrid Vehicles: Hybrid technology combines an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor. It serves as an intermediate step towards achieving all-electric goals. However, hybrids still rely on Li-ion batteries, which present similar challenges as BEVs in terms of resource dependency.
- Flexible/Flex Fuel Vehicles: Flex fuel vehicles have an ICE but can run on different types of fuel or a mixture of fuels such as petrol and ethanol. They offer flexibility in fuel choice and can help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
- Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs): FCEVs use hydrogen to generate electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen, producing water vapor as the only emission. However, the adoption of FCEVs has been limited due to challenges related to fueling infrastructure and safety concerns associated with handling pressurized hydrogen.
- Synthetic Fuels: Some manufacturers, such as Porsche, are developing synthetic fuels that can be used in internal combustion engines. These fuels are designed to reduce carbon emissions and make ICE vehicles cleaner, bridging the gap between conventional vehicles and EVs.
-Source: Indian Express