Chetak, Spectra, Bullet, Yezdi, Luna, Rajdoot, these names have been an integral part of Indian homes for decades. From the mountainous terrain of Himachal Pradesh to the verdant backwaters of Kerala, the versatile two-wheeler has been a pervasive cultural symbol.
An easy and fast mode of travel, facilitating social interactions, it was also the quintessential family vehicle of India in the 80s and 90s. At the turn of the millennium, a two-wheeler gradually transformed into an agent. expression of individual freedom by girls and boys, portraying the image of a bright, wise and upwardly mobile country.
Ola’s recent announcement to open the world’s largest electric scooter manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district resonates perfectly with India’s sentiment towards two-wheelers over the years. The Indian mobility landscape is dominated by two-wheelers, which account for nearly 80% of vehicle sales. At the same time, India is also the biggest manufacturer and one of the biggest exporters of two-wheelers in the world.
An ascending switch
In this rapidly changing world, the transformation is most evident in transport and mobility ecosystems. India is called to play a central role in the global disruption of the mobility sector. Traditional energy-hungry motor vehicles are giving way to shared, connected and zero-emission electric mobility. The recent remodeling of FAME II is a decisive step towards building an affordable, accessible and equitable future of transport, thus enabling increasing comfort of life and levels of productivity.
The relevance of developments in the mobility sector has been recognized by IIT-Delhi which has launched a two-year M Tech program in electric mobility. Two-wheelers and three-wheelers will be the torchbearers for the early adoption of electric vehicles in India and, therefore, more emphasis has been placed on their electrification under the revamped FAME II.
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On Ahmedabad’s BRTS, one of the best rapid transit systems in India, commuters can now enjoy rides in zero-emission electric buses called Eco Life buses. Recently, the city received 50 new electric buses from JBM Auto as well as state-of-the-art charging infrastructure to enable green public transit. Just three hours from Ahmedabad, India’s first city for electric vehicles is being developed in Kevadia.
Like Gujarat, nearly 18 states are at the forefront of fostering transformative mobility and have developed national electric vehicle policies to further help the electric mobility ecosystem. Bicycle rickshaws, automatic rickshaws, small and large buses all make up the versatile and dynamic landscape of India’s public transport system. The electrification of these will allow an upward transition to electric mobility with masses opting for these sustainable modes of travel.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has been identified as a key driver to increase adoption and will purchase three high-quality three-wheel electric lakhs for multiple user segments and target four million public transport users in nine cities.
Focus on public transport and cities
Public transport will prove to be an essential catalyst in India’s urbanization trajectory. A few years ago, some students in the city of Pune started to imagine transportation solutions for their classmates who could not afford a taxi. The result of their thinking was an OEM called E-Motorad which makes electric bikes for commuters. Their bikes provide an environmentally friendly solution for daily commuting and are now in use in 58 countries.
The rate of urbanization is expected to grow exponentially with 17 Indian cities expected to be among the 20 fastest growing cities in the world by 2035. Indian cities are also grappling with the monumental challenge of air pollution, one of the greatest public health emergencies of our time. . This creates a huge opportunity to build state-of-the-art, clean and convenient public transport systems to move people around cities in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.
Cities and towns will soon reap the benefits of an innovative, low-cost electric vehicle (EV) charging station that can accelerate the adoption of electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers. A future Indian standard will enable rapid scale-up of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure which is essential in the country. A target price of less than Rs 3,500 ($ 50) for a smart AC charging station operated with a smartphone will make a global breakthrough in affordable EV charging infrastructure.
India has a rich history of shared shuttles and public transport, many of which have become iconic in popular culture: the trams of Kolkata, the local trains of Mumbai, and the newer metro in Delhi. The behavioral preference of Indian commuters for public transport and shared mobility will play a key role in the expansion of electric vehicles.
In the revamped FAME II, the focus is on achieving maximum electrification for the cities of India namely Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Surat and Pune. This will not only maximize the electrification of large-scale electric buses, but also provide a model to replicate for other cities.
Indian cities have seen a huge proliferation of three-wheeled vehicles as these offer affordable last mile and point-to-point connectivity. These also generate income for many. There are over 20 lakhs of electric rickshaws circulating on Indian roads carrying over six crores of people every day. Mass sourcing of E-3W will bring prices down drastically with benefits reaching even the most remote corners of India.
The cascading effect
In October 2013, the prestigious IIT-Madras saw the return of two former students who decided to develop a lithium-ion battery. The duo went on to create Ather S340, India’s first smart electric scooter. Eight years later, Ather Energy manufactures over a hundred smart electric scooters daily and was one of the first companies to implement the revamped provisions.
Under the new FAME II regulations, the subsidy for electric two-wheelers has increased from Rs 10,000 / kWh to Rs 15,000 / kWh. At the same time, the incentive cap has been raised to 40% of the price, from 20% previously.
To maintain its market leadership position and expand into global markets, India must embrace the transition to electric two-wheelers (E-2W). E-2Ws are the lowest fruit for electrification, as this segment has a smaller battery size and lower automation and power electronics, making them easier to manufacture.
As mentioned earlier, recent industry initiatives like Ola’s plan to create a mega-factory to produce more than 10 million electric vehicles per year from 2022, with an investment of $ 330 million, are important steps in this direction. Moreover, the impact of recent changes in FAME II is already visible on the ground, with Revolt Motors selling bikes worth Rs 50 crore in less than two hours.
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The shift to smart electric mobility will also reduce India’s energy dependence on other countries. The success story of E-2W will undoubtedly propel India towards self-sufficiency and make it the hub of the world’s exports.
The growth of electric vehicles will also have cascading effects on different sectors of the economy, with battery storage being one of the key areas. The battery is the backbone of the EV and accounts for 40-50% of the cost of the EV. India needs nearly 1,200 GWh of batteries for electric vehicles, consumer electronics and storage.
Recently, the Indian government also launched the Production Incentive Program (PLI) for the manufacture of Advanced Cell Chemistry (ACC) batteries with an expenditure of Rs 31,600 crore until 2030. The recent remodeling of FAME II coupled The PLI program will provide the initial impetus for the adoption of the battery ecosystem in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the world to the brink of a revolution with growing awareness towards a sustainable zero waste lifestyle. India is well positioned to lead and lead the shift to zero emission modes of travel. The recent remodeling of the FAME II program will provide a strong impetus to achieve this goal. Across India, these incentives will pave the way for a future of clean mobility, enrich India’s transportation system, and leave an indelible mark on how Indians choose to travel.
Warning:The author is the CEO of NITI Aayog. The opinions expressed are personal.
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