India’s states are leading the way in the promotion and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country as the nation aims to create an infrastructure system centered around sustainable and green mobility. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra have already announced official policies regarding EVs, and other states such as Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and Goa are in the process of drafting similar policies.
The central government’s approach to electric vehicles, however, remains non-committal. After announcing that it seek to promote 7 million hybrid and all-electric vehicles in the country by 2020, and transform the country in a 100 percent EV nation by 2030, the government walked these promises back. Indeed, it has yet to even articulate a national policy regarding electric vehicles. This lack of a national policy means that, despite the progress India’s states are making, India will struggle to fully realize the vision of a EV-based mobility infrastructure.
States Spearhead Formulation of Electric Vehicles Policy
Last month, Andhra Pradesh became the latest state to release a policy regarding electric vehicles. As part of its policy, the government has outlined a goal of generating investments worth Rs 30,000 crore (nearly $4.4 billion) over the next five years by giving fiscal incentives to carmakers, battery manufacturers, charging infrastructure companies and consumers. The state has also established a target of one million electric vehicles to be operating on the roads in Andhra Pradesh by 2024.
Karnataka and Maharashtra have also announced similar such policies. Maharashtra also announced its policy in February 2018, with a focus on production and subsidies. Indeed, the policy underscores how Maharashtra will support the production of electric vehicles, with a target of producing 500,000 vehicles in five years. To support this goal, the state has proposed exempting EVs from road tax and registration charges, as well as offering subsidies such as a 15 percent subsidy for the first 100,000 owners of EVs.
Karnataka is also aggressively incentivizing the production of electric vehicles, establishing a target for Rs. 31,000 crore (or $4.83 billion) in investments that will help generate 55,000 jobs. Karnataka’s government also plans to create a “special purpose vehicle that will involve civic agencies, state transport and energy companies, and its renewable energy and industrial boards for the creation of charging infrastructure within the state.”
In addition to these three states, several other states are also in the process of drafting their own policies. Telangana has focused on incentivizing electric vehicles, with a special focus on manufacturers, buyers, and charging infrastructure development. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh is has released a draft policy outlining goals and targets on manufacturing capacity, battery production, and charging and swapping infrastructure for electric vehicles. Goa is also reportedly actively working to draft policies on electric vehicles.
Center Continues to be Undecided
Despite such progress by individual states, the center has not yet made progress on its own policies on electric vehicles. Rather, the center has walked back a number of its own promises and goals.
Indeed, in September 2017, India’s Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari announced that, by 2030, India would transform India into a 100 percent EV nation. His statements were supported by the then-Minister of Power Piyush Goyal, who said “only electric vehicles will be produced and sold in the country by 2030.” Gadkari later reiterated that the goal for a 100 percent EV India, and that his ministry had already drafted a policy on EVs that was awaiting approval of the Cabinet.
However, by February 2018, the government walked back all of these statements. Gadkari announced to the media that the government had decided against formulating an EV policy, saying “ There is no need for any policy now.” Reports later emerged that, almost a month earlier, India’s Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Babul Supriyo, had informed Parliament that “There are, at present, no plans under consideration of the department of heavy industries to make all vehicles in the country powered by electricity by 2030.”
Such equivocations from the central government means that, despite the significant work does by India’s states, India will face significant hurdles in creating a nationwide transportation infrastructure rooted in sustainable energy. Indeed, the central government will have to be a central player in generating investments, creating a charging infrastructure, and promoting indigenous production if India is to realize its goal of becoming a 100 percent EV-based nation.
Given India’s problems with pollution, traffic, and rising population, a sustainable, green energy-based transportation infrastructure centered around electric vehicles is crucial. However, if the government wants to make this vision a reality, it must stop equivocating and join India’s states in outlining a policy on electric vehicles.