Context: The progression to electric vehicles is important for India because such vehicles are sustainable and profitable in the long term. 

Electric Vehicle Technology

  • All-electric vehicles (EVs), also referred to as battery electric vehicles, have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. 
  • The vehicle uses a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged in to a wall outlet or charging equipment, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). 
  • Because it runs on electricity, the vehicle emits no exhaust from a tailpipe and does not contain the typical liquid fuel components, such as a fuel pump, fuel line, or fuel tank
  • When too low, the car’s battery needs to be recharged by plugging it in to use grid electricity, like when your phone needs charging. 

Govt. initiatives

  • Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles and its updated (Fame 2) version, the government has allocated $1.3 billion in incentives for electric buses, three-wheelers and four-wheelers to be used for commercial purposes till 2022, and earmarked another $135 million for charging stations. 
  • Domestic battery manufacturing capacity: $4.6 billion subsidy for battery makers has also been proposed by the NITI Aayog. 
  • Mining for Lithium and Cobalt: Lithium is also used as a drug to treat bipolar disorder and is soon becoming the metal to treat a world polluted by excessive carbon emissions.
    • In 2019, India’s National Aluminum Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) formally signed a joint venture agreement to form Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) to scout for strategic mineral assets like lithium and cobalt abroad for commercial use and for supplying to meet the domestic requirement for battery manufacturers. 
    • At present, India’s lithium-ion battery demand is fulfilled by imports from China, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. 
    • With its policy intervention to support battery manufacturers by supplying lithium and cobalt, this industry is more likely to grow domestically to support India’s goal to switch to electric mobility.
  • Vision: The government has set a target of 30 per cent vehicles becoming EV by 2030.

FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India):

  • It is part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP).
  • The first phase was launched in 2015 with the objective of augmenting demand for both hybrid and electric vehicles along with focus on early adoption of electric technologies.
  • Market creation through demand incentives was aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segments i.e. 2-Wheelers, 3-Wheelers Auto, Passenger 4-Wheeler vehicles, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses.
  • The second phase was launched in 2019 and its salient features are -
    • It will emphasise on electrification of the public transportation that includes shared transport.
    • In 3-Wheeler and 4-Wheeler segment incentives will be applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or registered for commercial purposes.
    • Private vehicles will be focussed in the 2-wheeler segment.
    • State/city transport corporation (STUs) will deliver the demand incentive for electric buses.
    • About 2700 charging stations will be established in metros, other million-plus cities, smart cities and cities of Hilly states across the country so that there will be the availability of at least one charging station in a grid of 3 km x 3 km.
    • Charging stations are also proposed to be installed on major highways connecting major city clusters.
    • Plug-in hybrid vehicles and those with a sizeable lithium-ion battery and electric motor will also be included in the scheme.

Significance of electric vehicles:

  • Reducing dependence on crude oil will save the government money, reduce carbon emissions, and build domestic energy independence. 
    • India imported 228.6 MT of crude oil worth $120 billion in 2018–19, which made it the third-largest oil importer in the world in terms of value.
  • Infrastructure: India’s transition to electric vehicles will allow us to fine-tune our infrastructure. 
  • Foreign policy: This will also influence India’s foreign policy as our energy security dependence will shift from West Asia to Latin America. 

Way forward:

  • Developing domestic battery manufacturing capacity: Developing domestic battery manufacturing capacity may fundamentally change India’s relationship with resource-rich Latin America as the government plans to buy overseas lithium reserves. 
    • In Latin America, most of the production comes from Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia.
    • Currently, India’s biggest trading partners in Latin America are Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela. The majority of trade is concentrated on crude oil which includes 14%-20% of India’s total crude oil imports.
    • However, this may soon shift to lithium and cobalt. 
  • The Government must focus on improving research and development so that good quality batteries are made at lower rates.
  • Prudent outlay must be given for development of charging infrastructure across the nation.
  • Timely and efficient implementation of schemes like FAME is required for improving the demand for electric vehicles.

Most importantly, electric vehicles will be a long-term solution to clean our cities, build new markets, and skill people for new jobs towards an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Best practices

  • Currently, Norway has the highest per capita all-electric (battery only) cars in the world.
  • In 2017, Norway’s parliament set a non-binding goal to ensure that all cars sold should be zero emissions by 2025. 
  • Norway has been giving tax incentives for fully electric vehicles, which make them cheaper to buy compared to similar internal combustion (IC) engine models. 
  • Norway also taxes IC engine cars more heavily than most European countries.
  • Parking lots offer a free charge, and new charging stations are continuously being built on the nation’s highways .

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