New Delhi: When Ranjan Ray, an architect in Noida started his own architecture firm, five years ago, he wanted a small and affordable car for his daily commute of 90 kilometers (km) from Noida to Gurugram (Gurgaon). Mr. Ray, for whom cars were always an exciting subject, saw an advertisement for Mahindra and Mahindra’s (M & M) ‘battery lease scheme’ on its electric car ‘e2o’. According to the scheme, the car which was originally priced at almost Rs. 8 lakh could be bought for only Rs. 5 lakh. The scheme suggested that the buyer had to pay only the cost of the car and not of the battery which was made available to the buyers on lease for five years at Rs. 1 lakh per year. The company took the responsibility of the regular upkeep of the battery for the entire lease period after which buyer was handed over the ownership of the battery. This advertisement coupled with his aspiration to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle increased Ranjan’s interest in the e-car and he bought Mahindra’s e2o in 2014 which gives a range of almost 110 km on one full charge. Five years on, Ranjan, who is now an owner of two electric cars, proudly boasts of a journey of over 1.2 lakh km in his first electric car, saving more than 8,000 liters of petrol.

Also Read: Budget 2019: Electric Vehicle Industry Cheers As E-Mobility Makes It To Government’s Priority List

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles
Ranjan Ray, an architect in Noida is a proud owner of two electric cars made by Mahindra Electric

After acquiring India’s first electric car company Reva Electric in 2010, which was launched by Chetan Maini in 1997 in India, M & M was the only automobile making company in India that manufactured electric cars. Established in 1945, M & M, originally a jeep manufacturer, got into clean energy solutions in the early nineties. This motivated the hardcore SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) company to widen its portfolio and include the electric vehicles (EVs) sector in it by combining the years of car manufacturing experience and the newly acquired e-car (Reva) technology. The company launched its very own e-car e2o in 2013.

While the market for EVs was minuscule with a sale of less than 1,000 e-cars per year, Mahindra’s faith in EV technology was bolstered by the increasing discourse on air pollution caused by vehicles on national and international levels. India also declared its commitment to check carbon emissions by signing the Paris Agreement in 2015.

This led to the branching out of a subsidiary Mahindra Electric (ME) in 2016 to focus only on manufacturing EVs and to further research and explore the e-mobility sector. The e-car manufacturer of India launched e-Verito in the same year which has a range of 120 km per full charge using about 14 units of electricity and costs almost Rs. 10 lakh.

The EV market has since then almost doubled in the country from 56, 000 EVs sold in 2017-18 to 1.2 lakh sold in 2018-19 (excluding the unregistered e-rickshaws). However, in a country which is fourth largest in the world in manufacturing of automobiles and has a market of more than 2 crore vehicles, EVs are not even one per cent of the total share of vehicles on the road.

Nevertheless, the share of EVs in the automobile market is expected to grow in the coming years as the government of India has set a target to have at least 30 per cent of total vehicles on road replaced with electric motor propelled and battery-powered EVs by 2030.

The target is seen as a bid to reduce carbon emissions and the country’s dependence on crude-oil imports. According to Petrol Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC), 219.15 million tonnes (MT) crore crude oil worth Rs. 5.65 lakh was used in Financial Year (FY) 2017-18 which is more than 80 per cent of India’s total fuel usage of that year. PPAC reports that almost 70 per cent of diesel and 99.6 per cent of petrol is consumed by the transport sector itself. However, as per a report by NITI Aayog, India could save 64 per cent of fuel demanded by the road transport and 37 per cent of carbon emissions from vehicles by 2030 with help of alternate mobility options like electric, shared, and public transports.

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles

 

Also Read: Interim Budget 2019: Electric Vehicle Industry Seeks Cuts In GST, More Customer Incentives, And Stable Policies

In India, according to Society for Manufacturer of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), there is more demand for low-cost, high performing motors ranging from 250 W to 5 KW capacity two-wheelers like the ones manufactured by Hero Electric, Avan Motors and Jitendra EV to 10 KW- 250 KW capacity four wheelers like Mahindra Electric’s e2o and e-Verito, Tata Motor’s Tigor Electric and Olectra-BYD’s e-buses.

As the government plans to phase out the use of crude oil to some extent over the next 11 years, electrification, as per the automobile industry giants like M & M and Hero Motors, is the future of mobility in India. With almost 200 new models of EVs to be launched worldwide, as per NITI Aayog, out which at least 20 would be in India, here are few things that you need to know about EVs, if you are planning to make a shift from your old petrol or diesel vehicle to a new and cleaner alternative.

Currently, EVs Are Almost 50 Per Cent Costlier To Purchase Than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicle Of Same Range

Buying an EV in India is costlier than buying its traditional counterparts. To give an example, currently a Hero Pleasure scooter, which runs on petrol and has a mileage of 110 km costs Rs. 46,100 and Okinawa’s electric scooter of the same range (the distance travelled per full charge) costs approximately Rs. 90,000 (after subsidies) and about Rs. 1,17,000 before subsidy.

The most expensive part of an EV is its battery. It contributes to almost 40 per cent of the total cost of EV. This is because the chemical most used for building the fuel cells which are further used to make the battery pack, lithium-ion, is not available naturally in India and is currently being imported from countries like China, Chile, Brazil, and South Korea where it is being mined in large quantities. Other chemicals like cobalt and phosphorus, which are mixed with lithium-ion are also imported resulting in high cost of batteries. However, as the prices of lithium-ion batteries are dipping in the international market due to advancement in technology, the cost of EVs is also coming down gradually.

Also Read: Electric Vehicles: Can Transport Sector Become All Electric-Driven By 2030? Here Is What EV Experts Think

Central Government Bears About 20 Per Cent Of The Cost Of Buying EVs

To make EVs affordable, the government of India has been providing subsidies to the buyers by bearing about 20 per cent of the cost of lithium-ion battery-powered electric vehicles under the Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) in India which aims to boost the sale of EVs by providing subsidies to the buyers.

Under the first phase of the scheme (or FAME I) which started in 2015 and was completed on March 31, 2019, buyers of electric two-wheelers like Hero Electric’s Photon Li, Jitendra EV Tech’s JET250LM, and Ather energy’s Ather 450, Okinawa’s Ridge Plus got a subsidy of up to Rs. 22,000. So, an Okinawa electric scooter that costs Rs. 1,17,000 could be purchased at approximately Rs. 76,000 after the subsidies under FAME I. For four-wheelers there was a subsidy of up to Rs. 1,24,000 for the buyers of e-cars like Mahindra’s E-Verito, and e2o Plus.

From April 1, 2019, the subsidies provided under FAME I have stopped and have been replaced by the subsidies offered in the second phase of FAME or FAME II.

The second phase of FAME was approved by the union government on February 28 and according to this scheme, a subsidy of Rs. 10,000 per kilowatt hour (KWH) of the battery capacity of the vehicle will be offered to the buyers of electric two, three, and four-wheelers. For example, the buyer of an e-scooter or an e-auto with a battery capacity of 2 KWH will get a subsidy of Rs. 20,000.

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles

 

The subsidies under FAME II, however, apply only on private electric two-wheelers and commercial vehicles and not private four-wheelers. This may not lead to an increase in the adoption of electric cars among individuals. FAME II may also decrease the sale of 1 KWH battery fitted low and medium range electric two-wheelers which form a major proportion of EV market in India. This is because subsidies offered in FAME II will make low and medium range electric two-wheelers costlier by Rs. 12,000 than the price which was being offered after subsidy under FAME I. However, there will be a boost in the sale of high-end electric two-wheelers like Ather Energy’s scooters and Okinawa’s scooter as an effect of this subsidy, say industry experts.

Lower Running, Maintenance And Repair Costs And Thus Ultimately Low Cost Of Owning

While purchasing an EV may seem costlier than conventional vehicles, owning an EV becomes quite cheap in the long run as the running cost of an EV is cheaper than the same for conventional vehicles. This is mainly because of the price of fuel used per km is higher than the cost of electricity used for running per km.

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles

 

Another cost advantage of EVs is that these have fewer parts as compared to combustion engine vehicles. For example, According to Mahindra Electric, e-cars have fewer parts than conventional cars as these do not require a clutch, gearbox or an exhaust pipe. Fewer parts mean less damage which implies that less repair is needed. Thus, with less car repairing, much of the maintenance spending will be cut. According to the spokesperson of Mahindra Electric,

With just one moving part, the motor, EVs are simple and very strong. Just maintain the brakes, tyres, and suspension and that’s about it.

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles have fewer parts as compared to conventional vehicles of the equivalent mileage because of which less repair is needed and thus the maintenance cost of EVs is low

EVs, however, have one significant cost which needs to be borne by the user and that is the cost of replacing the batteries. Batteries need to be replaced every three-four years in two-wheelers and five-six years in four-wheelers. While the cost of the battery is expected to come down in the near future, currently, it is Rs. 22,000 for one battery.

Also Read: Cabs In India Go Electric As Service Providers Start Investing In Electric Mobility

Environment Will Benefit From The Shift

By 2030, India, a signatory in the Paris Climate Agreement, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 33-35 per cent from 2005 levels. However, as per a study conducted by Energy Alternatives India (EAI), a Chennai based research firm, the Indian transport sector still contributes about 13 per cent of total carbon emissions and in many cities, transport sector contributes over 60 per cent of the total pollution. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, cause zero tailpipe emission. Thus a shift to electric vehicles will not only help the country to hit the target of 2030 but will also benefit the environment.

If EVs are charged using renewable energy instead of thermal energy, carbon emissions can be reduced further.

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles can help reducing carbon emissions to a considerable extent if run using electricity produced from renewable sources like solar energy

No Noise, No Smell Of Oil

Electric cars have no noise and no smell of fuel combustion. The EVs are also vibrationless. Kartik Singhal, who purchased Okinawa’s Ridge Plus, a high range electric scooter four months ago to have a cost-effective mode of transport to commute to his college said,

I purchased my e-scooter in November last year as I wanted to have something affordable for my daily travel. When I got to know about this scooter, the most appealing thing for me was that it has a detachable battery which I can just take inside my house and put on charge just like I charge my laptop. I am now free from the hassle of getting in long ques for petrol. Apart from this another great thing about my EV is that it doesn’t have the oily smell and the noise from the engine. It also accelerates quite faster than my previous petrol scooter. It feels like I am on a smooth, noise-free electric train.

However, according to experts, electric vehicles, as they are a lot quieter than cars with internal combustion engines can be risky for pedestrians who may not sense that a vehicle is coming towards them. Hemender Kumar Gupta, Chief General Manager, Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) told that during the first electric bus project in the state, HRTC found that the public was facing inconvenience due to the ‘zero-noise’ feature of electric buses and so they introduced a sound system through which people are made aware of the electric vehicle running in the vicinity.

Also Read: Electric Scooters On Call: Delhiites Get Ready To Ride On ‘E-Bike’ Made By Amritsar Based Startup

Charging An EV

Instead of using oil, EVs are powered by battery packs and need to be charged through an electricity supply. Charging an electric vehicle requires the use of cables, connectors, and a charging point. Normally, EVs can be charged in five to six hours with help of wall sockets with at least 5 ampere power plug (like the ones used for powering a computer) in case of electric scooters just and at least 15 Ampere power plug (generally used for running an air conditioner, and microwave) in case of electric cars. These plugs can either be installed in the driveways or at home/office parking space. The speed of a charge depends on the type of vehicle one has and the type of power supply one is connected to.

Buying Guide: Things You Must Know About Electric Vehicles
As per experts, charging stations play an important role in the transition from the conventional fuel vehicles to electric vehicles

With the advancement of technology, India has now increased its available charging capacity to 50 KWH chargers called as superchargers. However, currently, the publicly available chargers are only 15 KWH chargers that can power up an electric car completely in about two hours and three KWH slow chargers that have the capacity to charge an e-vehicle in about six hours.

Also Read: Electric Vehicles: Government To Setup Charging Stations At Every 25 Km By 2030

India’s Push To Go Electric

India’s Push To Go Electric is a special series by NDTV-Banega Swachh India team. Through a series of five articles, we aim to demystify the concept of electric mobility in India as it targets to achieve at least 30 per cent of vehicles on road to be electric by 2030. The series provides an overview of the current status of the electric vehicles sector in India and the challenges faced by it in terms of infrastructure and technology.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

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