Every day we are witness to new developments taking shape in electric mobility space. In fact, it seems to be one of the biggest collaborative exercise being undertaken between automobile manufactures, battery producers, R&D Labs and governments to push electric mobility as the new avatar of mobility and make it the dominant one at that.
The nagging question which arises is whether such efforts, that are being undertaken at national and international level, can quicken the pace of EV adoption and make conventional IC engines obsolete sooner than ever expected. We can answer this question by relying on recent developments happening within India and offshore. First, there appears no doubt that EV revolution is bound to invade two-wheeler (2W) space much faster than 4w. I can support my argument by stating some facts. The rapid entry by small private sector players in the manufacture of 2W EV demonstrates that it’s not a one-off event rather it is becoming a reality as the biggies in 2W Auto sector are also quickly changing gears and refocusing their plans to make 2W EV. In fact, on common observance, we see that there is an increasing shift which is happening in the fleets of delivery services of ecommerce players from ICE engine to EV 2W. This shift is gaining ground basically because of very low running costs which EV offer plus the fact that it has become fashionable to state that you are a climate friendly entity and really bothered about ESG norms which give you an added advantage of strengthening your brand too.
Corporates across the globe are looking forward towards securing and augmenting their share in the EV value chain pie. Recent acquisitions made by various multi-national mining giants in addition to the aggressive Chinese investments in the value chain are just a few examples of the urgency nations and companies are eliciting towards the shift, not just from environmental angle, but more so from the profitability perspective.
Secondly, with newer technologies in terms of making batteries from other than lithium which is scarce in India and the world in general there appears to be an affordable alternative available for batteries for instance aluminium. Disposal of used lithium is another problem that is being debated so aluminum takes care of that as it can be recycled. Since battery is about 40% of the costs in an EV if alternative battery manufacturing becomes affordable, we can surely see surge in EV sales in next 3 to 4 years.
Thirdly, how soon we can put in place the charging infrastructure and that too powered by clean sources will also shape the rollout of EV mobility. At present we are still far away from that even though we have started putting the chargers in mega cities, but the source remains dirty. Besides sizeable investments a lot of cooperation between power producers, Discoms and City administrators is required to set up a clean affordable charging infrastructure including standardization of charging plug and sockets by both auto manufactures as well as charging equipment producers.
Lastly, the whole journey is driven in the background of climate consciousness which a country decides to adopt. So, nations which are highly conscious have already taken the lead like some European countries as well as China, India too is seized of this issue and the government is trying to fast track the conversion from polluting forms of transport to cleaner ones. India’s progress in scaling up renewable energy capacity has been a subject of praise globally. Greater incentivization of both EV producers and users will expedite the shift. Also, formulation and rollout of more stringent statutes aimed at the adoption of EVs, will also give a big push to the electric mobility.
EV are the future and as regards India the 2W are surely going to get into EV space much faster as compared to 4W. We are a mileage-conscious nation and EV 2W are undoubtedly cheaper to operate so that makes the case for conversion much stronger. EV 4W have started entering the market but will take time to become dominant form of transport in India in the very near future. Recent surge in EV registrations surely indicate that the shift is real.
(Sanjiv Sharma is Executive Director with a leading Energy Co. Views are personal.)