Auto industry should grab EV opportunity: Rajiv Kumar

Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on August 08, 2019 Published on August 07, 2019

Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog   -  Kamal Kishore

Cars not in changeover plan; BS VI investments won’t go waste, says Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman

The auto sector’s fears over electric vehicles (EVs) are misplaced, said NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar. Instead of seeing EVs as a threat, he urged the auto sector to grab the opportunity offered by this sunrise sector and emerge a global leader.

“In any case, in the Electric Mobility announcement we have not included cars at all, we have not given a date, we have also not said what you are going to do,” he stressed.

A miffed Kumar added, “When we have said nothing as yet about four-wheelers and cars, it is a bit strange to constantly hear that the ₹60,000 crore invested in shifting cars and other four-wheelers to BS VI and all this investment will go waste.”

Two-wheelers are mainly petrol driven and switching a petrol engine from BS IV to BS VI is actually not very expensive, according to the NITI Aayog.

“We want to nurture the auto industry. We should work together to make sure that they can maximise their exports. There are large numbers of countries out there — to which both component and finished cars can be exported.”

“But, where is the announcement that by 2025 all your two-wheelers need to be EV? The target is only for vehicles below 150 cc, not above, to be electric. How does this impact car sales, commercial vehicle sales and tractor sales?” he asked.

Kumar also wondered whether six-seven years are not long enough time to plan. “Six years from now whatever investments would have been made in switching two-wheelers to BS VI, will be fully recouped,” he said adding “industry should fix its own target to get a lead or pole position in the global markets in this category.”

Some large two-wheelers manufacturing companies are already investing in EV start-ups.

In a report “Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs): Towards A Policy Framework” the NITI Aayog said “An EV policy for India must be tailor made to India’s particular needs…In India, a particular set of circumstances which are conducive to a sustainable mobility paradigm have created an opportunity for accelerated adoption of EVs over ICE vehicles.”

There is a strong possibility of India becoming a leader in small and public electric vehicles. India has over 170 million two-wheelers.

Kumar also disagreed with the auto industry’s suggestion, made in a recent meeting at NITI Aayog, that there should be no policy framework and no deadline fixed for switching to EVs for two- and three-wheelers.

“If we have no demand projections or future estimates, how do you develop the scales of production required for producing globally comparable modern battery plants? If you don’t, there will be just creeping expansion of EV vehicles output and the country will end up spending huge amounts on imports in the future, as it happened in the case of mobile phones, laptops and other electronic hardware.”

The most important goal of pushing EVs is to boost “Make in India”, he said. “We have set up the clearest time path for domestic production. As we speak we are also coming up with a policy to set up mega-sized battery plants in India. We are working with the Bureau of Indian Standards for coming out with Indian standards for charging stations.”

Published on August 07, 2019
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