Electric Vehicles & the Roadmap for India

Electric Vehicles & the Roadmap for India

Authors:  Shashank Gautam &
Divyansh Gautam,
Vth Year BBA LLB (Hons.),
Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

With the Copenhagen discussions taken place, it can be said that the acknowledgement of global warming as a potential threat to our planet has never been greater and has been long overdue. Although, there is still a lack of awareness regarding global warming and climate change, however, the trend is nevertheless going towards an environment with strengthened control and regulatory frameworks in order to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. The dependence on fossil fuels and the climate change have led to a debate on how the future of mobility might be designed. In the light of the changing dynamics, Electronic Vehicles (hereinafter referred to as ‘EVs’) have taken the forefront. Since, the automobile industry is deemed to be responsible for a substantial share of global CO2 emissions; therefore, it is one of those industries that calls for tighter regulatory control in both, developed as well as developing countries.[3]

The more pertinent question for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) has been shifted to ‘what approach is needed to succeed in today’s EV market?’ from the more traditional question of long-term viability. The major challenge lies in the paradigm shift from the traditional vehicles to the EVs as they have a different value chain and processes to support them. Moreover, consumer perceptions of the practicality, functionality and the potential advantages of EVs remain largely mixed in such areas as cost, convenience, savings, travel range and charging infrastructure.[4]

Despite the aforementioned challenges, the Government of India is working towards an EV policy which also cater to other low carbon options such as Methanol, CNG and so on. The Indian EV industry is in its nascent stages with only two electric car manufacturers, about 10+ players in 2 wheelers and 3-4 OEMs in Electric buses despite the Indian Automobile Industry being ranked the 5th largest in the world and being set to be 3rd largest by 2030.[5] While there is a vision for 100% EVs by 2030, most industry experts indicate that around 40-45% EV conversion by 2030 is a realistic expectation. A major catalyst for this would stem from public transport requirements in India – fleet cars, E-buses, etc. it is projected that personal vehicle options for EVs will still be a relatively smaller element in the whole pie.

This article focuses on various strategies to overcome the challenges faced in transitioning to the ‘shared, connected and electric’ future of the automobile industry and the key areas of focus for the Indian government to do the same and other inter related matters affecting the Indian demographics of EVs.


The EV has now become a necessity; a bold statement that addresses climate change. It has evolved from its incubation due to many factors that vary from research and development and consumer acceptance.[6] The driving factors of success in many markets were analysed and similarities have been identified as follows:

1. Technological and Environmental factors: concerns over the driving range have been addressed by improving battery technology. Energy efficiency in batteries have been improved by 400% and electronic automobile manufacturers like Tesla Motors have aimed to break the USD 100/kWh by this year[7]. As a result of this improvement, costs have been lowered as well. Moreover, range anxiety issues have been addressed, thereby providing for more than sufficient energy availability for driving.

To overcome this ‘range anxiety’, measures are being taken, for instance rapid charging infrastructure has been speeded up with increased number of installations and relatively lesser charging periods. Charging stations in public spaces and at workplaces have improved market acceptance.[8]

Environmental factors have proved to be a strong motivation post COP 21 and prompted nations to cut down on emissions and counter climate change which resulted in initiating multiple initiatives and government funding to accomplish the same.[9]

  1. Economic Policy: In countries which have successfully implemented EV policies, it can be observed that the conventional solution involves a combination of public and private sector investment where the former is prominent in most cases. The policies come in the form of monetary and non- monetary support measures. The monetary support includes tax exemptions from road taxes (as seen in Europe), annual circulation tax, registration tax, etc. Non-monetary support includes free parking spaces and wide availability of fast charging stations and bus lines in the highway. Some government investments included providing purchase incentives (Europe) while scrapping diesel vehicles, exemption of taxes (Europe, USA and China), tax rebates (USA) waived toll fee and other financial tools. [10]

3. Social factors and Infrastructural changes: the biggest concern is public safety due to high susceptibility for fire accidents owing to alleged volatile battery chemistry. There have been various isolated incidents owing to the same. However, it has been established that EVs are not a greater threat than gasoline vehicles which can also catch fire. Tesla’s Model S, for instance, was awarded the highest safety award by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Hence, societal obstacles in the form of consumer perceptions have been a barrier for EV markets for quite a while.

Each country is characterised by the above barriers but vary with different intensities. India’s primary mode of transportation is the two-wheeler and the three-wheeler vehicles with a rapidly growing personal car market. India is the second largest two-wheeler market in the world after China and consumes around 40 percent of petrol every year.
The right approach for India to eventually expand the EV market to private car owners will depend on the success of EVs in public transportation and the two and three-wheeler sectors to reduce global carbon emissions. However, the
re are some challenges to setting up flourishing business models for electric rickshaws, buses and two wheelers:

1. Government Regulation Challenges:

(a) The Indian Government in 2013 announced the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan to create demand for all electric vehicles but has not created a separate program or business model for the potential two-wheeler and three-wheeler market exclusively.
(b) More policy tools need to be put in place to increase research and development capacity and incentives in battery technologies.
(c) There is no sustainable transportation policy intervention to integrate electric buses to slowly phase out diesel buses.
(d) Promotion of public-private partnerships through car sharing programs will increase greater utilization of EVs.
(e) Promotion of pilot programs in public transportation in various cities should be implemented to understand feasibility for the Indian market and thereby allow data sharing for charging stations to be installed.

2. Technology and Infrastructure Challenges:

(a) There needs to be an extensive layout and tariff plans for public charging stations that are run by public-private partnerships to promote private investment into this sector.
(b) There needs to be a common standard that is adopted by all players in the EV market in the charging and battery infrastructure to increase flexibility and ease of access.
(c) Parking spots exclusively for EVs will address range anxiety issues.
(d) As the number of EVs increase, the grid must increase its capacity to cater to the same, and this cannot be done without altering the energy mix to include more renewables and nuclear.
(e) Setting up regions to eliminate emissions in highly polluted cities like New Delhi and Agra by limiting access to conventional vehicles will promote e-rickshaws and electric buses.
(f) India’s lithium reserves are not sufficient to cater to the increasing demand from the EV market.
(g) There is a need to invest in research in development to design battery technology that is convenient and adaptable for domestic needs.
(h) There are insufficient regulations on recycling battery and material recovery, which in itself could be a whole new industry.
(i) Smart City programs the Smart City Mission should be expanded to more cities to develop existing infrastructure to make the transition to EVs easier.
(j) There is a need for manufacturers to start designing EV components to meet the local requirements through proper research and development to reduce imports and motivate players to enter the manufacturing sector.
(k) There is an almost non-existent supply chain process to cater to the demand of EVs.

3. Public Transportation and Consumer Acceptance Challenges:

(a) The number of buses that run on combustion engines is not sufficient to cater to the needs of the people (currently only one-tenth of the population). Expanding public transportation provides opportunities for EV markets to increase as well by deploying more electric buses.
(b) There needs to be an effective transportation system specifically for high population density regions to reduce travel time for EVs to be deployed.
(c) The National Urban Transport Policy promotes public transportation but however less emphasis is given to introduce more bus fleets.
(d) There is an inhibition for consumers to purchase EVs due to ignorance of subsidies, lack of access of public transportation and high costs.
(e) Programs and agencies like the Bureau of Energy Efficiencies, National Green Tribunal, FAME, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, etc., should create educational programs to remove any stigma and scepticism associated with EVs.
(f) Incentives like prioritizing EVs in traffic by allowing them to use separate lanes will reduce congestion and increase public acceptance of EVs.
(g) Charging stations at points of high access like malls, hospitals, stadiums, etc., should be implemented.[11]
(h) Intelligent Transportation Systems are needed to understand consumer use of conventional vehicles and land use to develop better activity-based modelling, to create travel information and to develop user opinions and attitudes.[12]


The following are the various recommendations by the authors:
1. The government should consider pursuing tariff experimentation and scope regulatory effects of mobility service bundling.
2. Investigate a common technological standard for EV charger interruption with Distribution Network Operator access.
3. Define minimum standards of access and provision for public charging coverage.
4. Reform in the regulatory regime regarding supplier switching mechanism to promote longer contracts for EV power supply.
5. The city to act as a partnership broker:  Cities to analyse business case for establishing a supply utility.


The rise of EVs since the late 20th century in some developed nations has sparked a movement for mass adoption in some developed nations. This article identifies EVs as a solution for developing nations, which contributes to the majority of global carbon emissions. The way forward would be to equip developing nations with the right technology to conserve energy and use low carbon infrastructure. To achieve sustainable transportation goals, it is necessary to offer a cheaper and affordable EV solution for developing nations like India where a USD 2000 with a range of 50 miles is ideal for daily commutation.[13] This paper also discusses the existing EV projects in India and concluded that there is an untapped EV market in the two-wheeler, three-wheeler, bus and the public transportation sectors.

Introducing EVs to an existing and ailing public transportation system will increase consumer acceptance in that electric bikes, e-rickshaws and electric buses will be a cheaper e-mobility a
lternative to expensive electric cars.
[14] The usefulness and effectiveness of EVs in the public transportation system will decide the future electric car market for private ownership. Finally, this paper notes the challenges, and proposes a roadmap and business strategies that India must address to adopt EVs as a solution to create a low carbon infrastructure and to eventually reach sustainable transportation goals.


[3]International Energy Agency. World Energy Outlook 2012; OECD/IEA: Paris, France, 2012.

[4]Gass, V.; Schmidt, J.; Schmid, E. Analysis of alternative policy instruments to promote electric

vehicles in Austria. Renew. Energy 2014, 61, 96–101.

[5]Clean Energy Ministerial; Electric vehicles initiative; International Energy Agency. Global EV

Outlook: Understanding the Electric Vehicle Landscape to 2020; OECD/IEA: Paris, France, 2013.

[6]US Department of Energy. EV Everywhere Grand Challenge Blueprint; U.S. Department of

Energy: Washington, DC, USA, 2013.

[7] The Economic Times. (2019). Tesla turns super-efficient, plans to create cars that run on lithium-ion batteries. [online] Available at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/tesla-turns-super-efficient-plans-to-create-cars-that-run-on-lithium-ion-batteries/articleshow/71387690.cms?from=mdr [Accessed 08 Jan. 2020].

[8]US Department of Energy. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; U.S. Department of

Energy: Washington, DC, USA, 2009. Available online: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/

arra.html (accessed on 08 Jan 2020).

[9]“Soft Sales Crimp Outlook for ElectricCars,” November 30 2012, Jack Ewing, TheNew York Times.

[10]Midler C., Beaume R. (2009). From Technology Competition to Reinventing Individual Mobility for a Sustainable Future: Challenges for New Design Strategies for Electric Vehicles,International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, vol. 9, n. 2, p. 174-190.

[11]Freyssenet M. (2009). The Second Automobile Revolution, Basingstoke and New-York, Palgrave Macmillan.

[12]Jullien B., Smith A. (eds.) (2008). Industries and Globalization: The Political Causality of Difference, London, Palgrave.

[13]Mom G. (2004). The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age, Baltimore (MD), Johns Hopkins University Press.

[14]Shacket S.R. (1979). The Complete Book of Electric Vehicles, Chicago, Domus Books.
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