NEW DELHI: It is high time automakers reap the dividends of India's aggressive thrust on electric mobility by manufacturing quality vehicles at affordable prices, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said today.
"Auto industry in India was cost centric and not quality centric.
That is why they have paid hefty prices for that and foreign players became popular here due to this philosophy," Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said at an event here.
"It is high time that the automakers come forward for production of quality electric vehicles and get the benefits as those who will venture first will definitely be winners and those focusing on cost will remain behind," the minister said.
Stressing on the need for "stiff competition" in the segment to reduce prices, Gadkari also said the government has already taken a plethora of decisions to push electric vehicles and apart from cars and commercial vehicles, was testing tractors for giving a boost to the agriculture sector.
Gadkari was addressing a gathering along with NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant after inaugurating two electric vehicles charging stations (fast and slow charging) at the government think-tank's office here.
NITI Aayog is the co-ordinating agency for electric mobility.
The minister said the thrust on electric mobility is "the beginning of a new era in transport sector, a historical, revolutionary era. We import crude oil imports worth Rs 7 lakh crore which is a problem to economy. We can check it. we can check pollution.
" 'Make in India' and 'Made in India' will definitely reduce prices of vehicles, he said while lauding an electric bus manufactured by Tatas.
Use of bio-fuel, ethanol, methanol and electric vehicles will not only minimise pollution but is also "import substitute, cost effective, pollution free and indigenous", he said, adding that the GST on electric and bio-fuel vehicles was barely 12 per cent to promote these.
A proposal for manufacturing second generation ethanol from rice straw, wheat straw, bagasse and municipal waste was pending before the Cabinet, he said.
In response to growing concerns about climate change and the transport sector's dependence on fossil fuels, many countries have called for electrification of their transport fleet and India should not lag behind, he added.
Emphasising that there will be adequate availability of charging infrastructure, the minister said he has held talks with the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on alternative fuel-based transportation and their response was positive.
"UP, Haryana and Punjab burn crop residue and one tonne of this can produce 280 litre of ethanol.
Bio-fuel along with electricity can power 10 lakh buses as barring a few states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the state transport corporations are in losses," he said.
He said his ministry has already inked a pact with Transport for London (TfL) in this connection.