It takes less than a keen eye to notice that we are in the midst of a critical transition with regard to mobility in India. The more-thannoticeable shift from internal combustion engines powering our vehicles to electric mobility is a cornerstone that, for a multitude of reasons, we must turn. As early adopters and firm believers to that line of thinking, we are gearing ourselves up for what will surely be an exciting future ahead. That said, it’s not as simple a matter as ‘Plug and Play’. As with any good structure, a solid foundation needs to be in place and, in this case, that foundation is building up an appropriate infrastructure and ecosystem to support the electric revolution.
To its credit, the Indian government has already stepped in and played its part to a great extent. We’ve made a commitment to becoming a net-zero emission country by 2070, and laid out ambitious-yet-achievable plans of having EV sales penetration of 30 per cent for private cars, 70 per cent for commercial vehicles, 40 per cent for buses, and 80 per cent for two- and three-wheelers, all by 2030. These are important numbers that show we mean business, and the government’s revised FAME II subsidies and state EV policies have so far proven to be quite conducive to EV adoption. So while the signs are good, it’s not the complete picture. There are still a number of glaring roadblocks for India to overcome.
For a start, even with the subsidies in place, on an average, the initial cost of an electric vehicle can still be considered high. It’s not hard to see why, either: a shortage of supply of raw materials, availability of battery manufacturing, swappable battery technology—they’re all sore points for India currently. In addition to that, the lack of a widespread network of charging stations, the very real fear that is range anxiety, and the limited amount of financing and resale value of second-hand vehicles—they’re all barriers that we need to overcome.
The most obvious solution is for a greater synergy amongst OEMs, EV players and the government along with state and central policies to bolster the EV adoption. Once that comes into play, it will be pivotal to ensure that the entire supply chain is trained by OEMs to be onboard with new practices involving electrification of vehicles.
However, it would be prudent to note that there has been considerable traction as far as India’s tryst with electrification goes. As time ticks by, it’s getting increasingly apparent that India’s EV growth focus is on public transport and twoand three-wheelers. Demand is getting increasingly significant in these sectors, and OEMs, battery manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and power utilities are all doing their utmost to satisfy said demand. Not just that, several B2B and B2C partnerships and associations between OEMs, battery producers, and other suppliers have been struck, and plenty more are in the works. It’s exciting to think of how these tie-ups will help catalyse the development of EVs and the supporting network in the coming years.
Inadvertently, this will also give rise to plenty of new business opportunities and investments. As per recent reports, a sizeable investment of `94,000 crore across the automotive value chain will be made over the next five years, which will give the space a well-deserved fillip. We will, as a country, require about 26,800 charging spots by 2025, roughly amounting to about 13.5 million sq. ft of space.
Speaking of space, this can provide real estate players an opportunity to capitalise on this
transition by providing charging stations in their locations or even providing warehousing materials. Setting up multiple charging options at their sites will afford increased accessibility and a certain degree of future-proofing, which is beneficial to all parties involved. There will also need to be a fair amount of harmony between the automotive and power sectors when it comes to resources and energy. This will facilitate domestic manufacturing of vehicles, batteries, and EV supply equipment.
As per JMK research data, India witnessed a 132 per cent increase in sales in two-wheeler EVs in 2021 over the same period the year before and, recognising this, we’ve partnered with multiple last-mile solution startups like Turtle Mobility, BattWheelz Mobility, and even with electric fleet start-up MoEVing to deliver a sizeable number of Hero EVs in the coming years.
The market for electric twowheelers in India is tremendously exciting right now. There are, despite the limitations listed earlier, tremendous opportunities to grow. The Centre and state policies are indeed helping push the sector forward massively, but there’s always more that can be done—by us OEMs in providing customers with excellent products and customer service at a price point which would actually enable them to save money while providing them personal mobility; as customers to be open to adopting new technologies; by B2B operators to begin converting their gas guzzling and polluting fleets to cleaner EVs; by cities to mandate and enable the conversion towards electric. A strong positive push from us, along with other OEMs and the government will allow us to hit the net-zero goals we’re aiming for much quicker than committed, not to mention completing the highly anticipated conversion to electric vehicles. The future is bright! The future is green! The future is electric!
(Naveen Munjal is Managing Director of Hero Electric)
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