The government is pushing for greater acceptance of electric buses and has advised states to do away with permit requirements for such vehicles, said Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, adding that he is expecting a minimum order of 10,000 battery electric buses from state-funded municipal corporations and private fleet operators.
"We have issued advisory to the state government that if the bus runs on electric batteries or bio-fuel then there is no need for permits. We have given a similar advisory for e-autorickshaws or bio-fuel and for taxis too. We are expecting at least 10,000 buses orders for municipal corporations and private operators for electric buses. The electric bus manufacturing has just started and there is a huge potential for the future," Gadkari had said on the sidelines of the inauguration of Maharashtra's first fully-electric bus service between Mumbai and Pune.
In August 2019, the Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) received 86 proposals from 26 states and Union Territories seeking subsidies for the deployment of 14,988 electric buses.
DHI sanctioned only 37 percent, or 5,595 electric buses, from the entire lot of proposals received.
Maharashtra bagged the biggest lot of sanctioned e-buses at 725 units, about 300 of which will run by Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) and 100 by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
The central government provides Rs 55 lakh for 12 meter buses and Rs 45 lakh for 9 meter buses as direct subsidies for electric buses. The cost of such buses range from Rs 1.3 crore to almost Rs 2 crore.
Indian buses makers such as Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have lagged behind in securing orders for such fully electric buses. Olectra Greentech (backed by BYD of China) has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the e-bus order winning 1255 units orders from various cities.
As per the government's definition, e-buses are divided into two categories -- length of nine meters or below and up to 12 meters. Both the kinds are required to have a driving range of 120 km and a minimum top speed of 70 km/hour.
The FAME-II scheme was made public in February, with the government setting aside Rs 10,000 crore to be spent over three years, beginning 2019-20. Around 7,000 electric buses are to be procured under this scheme.
The central government has given the go-ahead to states to allow electric two-wheelers to be run for commercial purposes which will help ease traffic congestion in big cities. At present, states vest the authority to allow two-wheelers to be run for commercial purposes. For instance, Goa has allowed two-wheelers to be run as taxis even as other states are considering the idea.
"We have given advisory to states that two-wheelers can be run as taxis especially for rural areas," Gadkari had said.
While the initial buying cost of an electric two-wheeler is high (an electric scooter cost as much as an entry-level petrol-powered bike), a running cost of around 50 paise per kilometre is the lowest operating cost among all vehicle types.