Electric mobility in the country is at an inflection point. As the world seeks to gradually phase out internal combustion engines (ICEs) and to decarbonise, the focus has shifted to electric mobility adoption and a transition to a cleaner transportation sector.

Two- and three-wheelers have taken the early lead. But there is gradual acceptance of electric vehicles in the passenger vehicle segment and in urban public transport. By 2030, India hopes to achieve 30 per cent EV sales for cars, 70 per cent for commercial vehicles, 40 per cent for buses and 80 per cent for two and three-wheelers.

The Union Government launched the National Electric Bus Program in 2022. It hopes to deploy 50,000 additional electric buses in the next five years. It is, no doubt, a tall and challenging order.

During 2022, over one million EVs were sold in India and the first half of 2023 has seen robust volume growth. In a major boost to the e-bus drive, the Union Cabinet on August 16 approved the “PM e-bus Sewa scheme,” wherein it is proposed to deploy 10,000 e-buses in 169 cities. The scheme envisages a budget of ₹57,613 crore, of this Centre will provide ₹20,000 crore and the rest is to be borne by the States.

Transition towards e-mobility

However, these are early days and a lot more must be done to achieve decarbonisation targets. Says Vishal Kapoor, CEO, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), “We are supporting India’s transition towards e-mobility through our subsidiary, Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL). So far, CESL has deployed over 1,956 units of four-wheeler EVs, serving more than 180 clients, including ministries, government departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies and shared mobility operators.”

Kapoor adds, “We have signed MoUs for the ‘electric vehicle as a service model’. These agreements include partnering with the Agency for New and Renewable Energy Research and Technology for 500 e-four wheelers, collaborating with Madhya Pradesh government for 255 e-four wheelers, providing 60 EVs to Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams, and supplying an additional 60 EVs to the rural development ministry.”

CESL is also actively engaged in establishing public charging stations throughout the country, with 294 operational stations and 147 in the pre-commissioning phase. It has also launched, “Enabling Net Zero transition through energy efficiency,” in partnership with USAID.

EESL has aggregated demand for approximately 12,000 e-buses across India on gross cost contracting model wherein the cost of operation is 30 per cent lower than diesel-run buses and 18 per cent lower than CNG-run buses.

It is also looking to deploy four-wheeled EVs across India under a comprehensive own, operate, and maintain framework. To achieve this, the focus is to aggregate the demand for 5,000 e-cars throughout the country.

Under this scheme, CESL will act as the provider of e-cars and offer associated services to potential clients. The clients will have the opportunity to access electric vehicles without the burden of owning or maintaining them, with CESL taking care of all operational aspects.

The National e-Mobility Programme of EESL was launched on March 7, 2018, to provide an impetus for Indian EV manufacturers, charging infrastructure companies, fleet operators, service providers and others. The aim was to gain efficiencies of scale and drive down costs, create local manufacturing facilities, and grow technical competencies. Under this programme, EESL has been promoting adoption of e-vehicles in government fleets and e-buses in the State Transport Undertakings.

E-bus adoption

Analysing the status of e-bus adoption and issues relating to financing, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in a recent report observes, “Establishing a central government owned electric bus financing facility can shield e-bus original equipment manufacturers from balance sheet and payment security risks emanating from the financially ailing State Transport Undertakings.”

A recent report by KPMG and CII says, “With the country breaking into the top three largest car markets globally in 2022, it is essential to swiftly transition from ICE to EV. Aiming to reduce fuel consumption and mitigate carbon emissions, the Centre has been increasingly pushing for the adoption of EVs through various policy interventions.”

Slowly and steadily policies are being announced. Till now about 26 States have announced electric vehicle focussed initiatives for both their usage and manufacture. This shows the measure of importance electric mobility is being given. And rightly so, for road transport accounts for about 16 per cent of global emissions.