It’s not EVs versus the rest

A clear roadmap is needed to ease the nerves of all stakeholders

On August 10, on World Biofuel Day, the Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, released an expression of interest by oil marketing companies for bio-diesel, made from used cooking oil.

This, along with 2G ethanol, compressed bio-gas and bio-diesel, are aimed at bringing down the dependency on fossil fuel imports. Simultaneously, transition to BS-VI grade of petrol and diesel is underway to offer cleaner fuel.

While Pradhan and his Ministry are pushing for fuel from alternative sources and better grade of fuel, the government think-tank NITI Aayog is aggresively pushing for electric vehicles (EVs). This has created a certain kind of unease within the oil industry.

NITI Aayog wants to be ahead of the curve instead of coming to a situation where policy trails the market. It has proposed that two- and three-wheelers should become EVs by 2025-26. But there seems to be some missing elements here — advocacy, understanding between various stakeholders, remunerative price, and assurance. Both the entrepreneurs and consumers are sensitive to these factors. While entrepreneurs in the oil industry want assurance of complete offtake, the consumer would want uninterrupted supply. Besides, decision-makers also need to ensure that the investors do not feel their investments will go down the drain.

A key player in this is Pradhan and his Ministry, who have been given the task of reducing dependency on oil imports by 2022. A Herculean task if not addressed with a proper strategy. Transition in mobility is here to stay and a roadmap has to be set which takes everyone along.

Pradhan, of course, has been quick to ease the nerves of players associated with his industry, when he said that EV is a priority, but the incremental requirement of fuel will have to be met through a combination of BS-VI grade petrol and diesel, CNG and bio-fuel.

If the future is in making petrol retail stations a one-stop shop that offers EV charging facilities and fuel from all blends, then focus on infrastructure, besides pricing and assurance, will be the key factor. And for this, a clear roadmap needs to be chartered out. Till then, confusion will prevail.

Associate Editor

Published on August 12, 2019

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