Report: P.Tharyan, Photography: Mohd Nasir
Thus February 26, 2015 will be
a red letter day for the electric vehicle manufacturers, notably Naveen
Munjal-controlled Hero Eco and Mahindra Reva as the Ministry of Heavy
Industries has confirmed that the Finance Ministry has given its go ahead to an
interim NEMMP 2020. The NEMMP 2020, it may be recalled, was unveiled in January
2013 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The plan was to offer subsidies
and create supporting infrastructure for e-vehicles.
Confirming this development,
Sohinder Gill, Director-Corporate Affairs, Society of Manufacturers of Electric
Vehicles and CEO- Global Business, Hero Eco noted that this will result in
electric scooters fitted with lead acid batteries cheaper by Rs 12,000 and
e-scooters with lithium batteries cheaper by Rs 25,000.
He further confirmed that the
government will in the next two years, at least in pilot cities, set up charging
infrastructure. “A lot of charging stations are expected to come up. The first
few hundred charging stations will be put up by the government. After that they
may invite private partnership.”
“What the government has
decided now has been the outcome of our efforts for the last four odd years. I
have been working on this front on behalf of the Society of Manufacturers of
Electric Vehicles. The journey has been very long and tardy,” he added.
Electric two-wheeler sales
dropped from 100,000 units in 2011-12 to 42,000 in 2012-13 and 21,000 in
2013-14. According to study commissioned by the Heavy Industries Ministry, in
collaboration with industry stakeholders, India has the potential for sales of
six-seven million electric cars and two-wheelers by 2020. However, the stark
reality is that the number of such vehicles plying on Indian roads at present
stands at 450,000, of which the total for cars is only 3,000.
The Indian government had
first offered support to the electric vehicle industry at the end of 2010, with
the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announcing a Rs 95-crore incentive
scheme for manufacturers. The government subsequently slashed the import duty
on batteries from 26 per cent to four per cent. The scheme provided incentives
of up to 20 per cent on ex-factory prices, subject to a maximum limit (Rs 1
lakh for an electric car).
“When the government came out
with an adhoc subsidiary through MNRE, it demonstrated more than enough that as
soon as the government comes with a subsidy and the threshold price is changed,
the volumes go two or three times higher. It became a very good case study for
the government and for us to prove the point that there is a necessity of
bringing down the prices of electric vehicles which manufacturers cannot do on
their own,” explained Gill.
“The worst period was
unfortunately when the subsidy was withdrawn under MNRE. The customers had
tasted low prices. For the next 12 months after this withdrawal, there was
virtually nil sales. The worst period was 2012-13,” he said.
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