As the Switch Delhi EV mass awareness campaign entered the eighth and final week on Tuesday, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot urged the city’s youth to drive the change by adopting electric vehicles. On an earlier occasion, he had announced that Delhi will be turned into an EV capital in two years. But the question is how easy that is? “I think it will take 10-15 years to make Delhi fully electric because we don’t have the infrastructure, such as charging stations.
The government had announced to install 20,000 charging stations in 2019 but I don’t think that has been practically implemented,” informs Mohd Jawaad Khan, Founder of Tadpole Projects, an EV making company. He adds, “Many companies have launched their cars priced between `13 lakh and `22 lakh, which is too expensive for the Indian middle class.
But retrofitting a car would cost up to `5 lakh, with 15kw motor and 120km of mileage with a swappable battery system.” Then, the cost of EV is high as the lithium ion batteries take up 70 per cent of the cost. India is not a manufacturer of these batteries; it is imported from China and assembled here, shares Khan. “So, getting an EV at the diesel-petrol rate will not be possible till we have our own battery production,” he adds. A lack of local production of components and batteries, negligible charging infrastructure and the high cost of EVs has led to a few takers in the price-conscious market, admits Nimish Trivedi, Co-founder of Prakriti E-Mobility that operates 168 electric cars in its fleet in Delhi-NCR.
“But the government’s interest in this sector might change things. Moreover, it is likely that there will be price parity between EVs and internal combustion engine cars in the next two years as the local production of battery packs and innovations in lithium-ion technology happen, as different institutions like ISRO, DRDO and IIT’s has been engaged for the same,” add Trivedi. The Delhi scrapping policy states that vehicles over 15 years of age will be mandatorily scrapped without any consideration of fitness certificate. According to the National Green Tribunal, nine million vehicles will have to be scrapped by 2020. By 2030, figure would reach around 28 million.
But Khan feels that retrofitting the cars into EV is more beneficial. “With retrofitting, you don’t have to scrap these many vehicles and can extend their life span by converting them into electric will not only reduce scrap burden but also the pollution,” adds Khan. On the other hand, Trivedi feels that scrapping unfit vehicles will result in less air pollution and better air quality in Delhi, and says, “Research has proven that recycling old metals can cut greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, recycling scrap metal will help us reduce global warming and also result in creating job opportunities that will boost the economy.” The rise in the petrol and diesel prices has led to the viability of the EV initiative, feels Environmentalist Jai Dhar Gupta. “If the cost of the ownership of fossil fuel cars goes up, conversion will come fast.
We need a way to get rid of old cars and recycle and reuse their parts, which, I think, some companies are working on. As an environmentalist, I feel it’s a step in the right direction. We don’t want these parts to be settling at the bottom of the ocean. Setting up the infrastructure where the scrapped vehicles can be recycled is very necessary.” But he quickly adds that the automobile lobby have invested billions of dollars in R&D to develop the engines. “Companies want to dump all their old parts and inventories in India. The government has a huge role in this by creating incentives and disincentives, with lobbies and personal interests at play,” adds Gupta.
However, Sanjay Krishnan, Founder of Lithium Urban Technologies, feels that the government’s plan has a vision backed by a concrete action. “Apart from incentivising electric vehicles and disincentivising the diesel vehicles, they have plans to make all government vehicles electric.” Meanwhile, a recent survey by the Lithium Urban Technologies, a corporate sustainable mobility solutions provider, revealed that 73 per cent of respondents from Delhi wish to purchase an EV as their next vehicle at price parity.
Like Ajay Dev Singh, 43, VP-Marketing in at edtech company from Delhi-NCR, says, “My first car was a petrol one, next will be an EV for sure because that is the most sustainable choice for mobility. Only EVs can reduce vehicular emissions that contribute to pollution and climate change.”