Commercial passenger fleets and small transport vehicle operators in Tamil Nadu can now work on replacing their diesel or petrol vehicles in their fleet with battery-operated vehicles or vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol as the State Government has issued an order that will allow green vehicles to play on the roads with permits at zero cost.

The State Government’s order is expected to accelerate fleet electrification in the state. Decarbonisation of fleets will not only help lower the TCO (total cost of ownership) of fleet vehicles operating in cities but also help in reducing the carbon footprint in those locations.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had said that battery-operated vehicles and vehicles running on methanol or ethanol as fuel are exempted from obtaining permits.

However, the Tamil Nadu government had stated that if the above order was given effect, there would be a lot of problems and regulation issues due to the operation of such vehicles without permits.

In April this year, the Union Government issued a notification stating that “in case of battery-operated tourist and tourist vehicle driven on methanol or ethanol fuel, All India Tourist Permit shall be issued without payment of any permit fee.”

The same analogy may be applied to all battery-operated transport vehicles and also to vehicles driven on methanol and ethanol.

Benefits for taxi

Thus, the Tamil Nadu government has now issued an order and stated that all battery-operated transport vehicles and also vehicles that run on methanol or ethanol meant to be used as transport vehicles (except goods vehicles whose GVW is below 3000 kgs) shall be issued with the permit without payment of any permit fee.

“The order has come a bit late. But it is better to be late than never. Faster electrification of commercial fleets than personal fleets will have a positive impact on the environment as fleet vehicles travel for long distances every day,”said K P Karthikeyan, CEO & Co-Founder, Zeon Electric Pvt Ltd, a leading EV charging operator in South India.

“According to estimates, a taxi travels 10 times more distance than a private vehicle in a year. I am sure a lot of taxi operators will shift to e-vehicles soon and over a period of time, there will be a marked improvement in the air quality index of cities like Chennai,” Karthikeyan added. 

It is gathered that operating cost is very key for a fleet operator to maximise profits and optimise fleet efficiency.

Today the upfront cost of electric cars is 25-30 per cent higher than petrol/diesel cars. However, the math changes once you consider the total operational cost of an electric vehicle over three-five years,” according to a joint report by CII, Invest India and Statiq.

For fleet operators, the running cost of their vehicles is of utmost importance to them. The running cost of the vehicle is inversely proportionate to the profits of the fleet operator i.e., the higher the running cost of the vehicle, the lower the profit and vice versa.

The per km cost of driving a petrol vehicle is ₹ seven-eight whereas it comes down to ₹ 1.2-1.4 for an electric vehicle. This major difference in the per kilometre cost ends up saving a very substantial amount in the long term, even more than the difference in the upfront cost of buying an electric vehicle, it added.