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Is the Indian market prepared for electric vehicle adoption today?

Decoding India's encouraging roadmap to electric mobility in the post-pandemic world

May 11, 2021 / 06:05 PM IST

CNBC TV-18 and Moneycontrol, in collaboration with Rockwell Automation, recently concluded their third webinar titled ‘Automating: The Future of Mobility’ in the engaging industry dialogue series, Manufacturing: Powering Economic Recovery.

This opening session presented a management perspective that comprehensively unwrapped the current automobile scenario by highlighting the industry innovations, government policies and the prognosis of the rising electric vehicle (EV) mobility and acceptance in India.

Weaving India on the Automation Path

India is at a nascent stage in EV adoption. While the NITI Aayog has put together ambitious guidelines to smoothen the EV transformation and create a robust roadmap in the coming years—namely 80 percent electrification in two and three-wheelers and 30 percent in four-wheelers—the current penetration stands weak at 0.7 percent of all vehicles on the road together.

The country displays positive two and three-wheeler adoption (1-2 percent), as these vehicles in commercial applications require less infrastructure for charging. With more women finding fatigue-free solace in three-wheelers, and the current subsidies and government policy support gaining momentum, these EVs fit perfectly into economic consumer behaviour and are ideal for the industry to invest in and scale up.

Sudhendu Sinha, Adviser, Infrastructure Connectivity - Transport and Electric Mobility, NITI Aayog, acknowledges the current roadblocks of weak pitching enthusiasm from the government and the manufacturers' sides. However, he is optimistic about a spin over with efforts in the coming years. He believes, "It's a very positive roadmap for Indian EV adoption. Maybe occasional hiccups will arise, but we will achieve the goals set for ourselves very soon. We will be going for a complete transformation from ICE to electric mobility."

Time to Strengthen the Automation Bridge

India is at a starting point in automation, much like the rest of the world. It’s poised for growth and has the advantage to strategically gain a leadership position in the coming years.

According to Dilip Sawhney, MD, Rockwell Automation, the industry, policymakers, and consumers are siding their bias towards electric mobility. He adds, "Contributions from the government and policymakers are impressive. Innovation on the technology side and commercial models will help this juggernaut move forward."

However, there are missing pieces left to assemble in this automation journey, most of which lies at the discretion of the Indian manufacturing units. Battery costs make up a bulky slice of the EV manufacturing costing, with efforts channelized to promote affordability. Statistics also boost this affirmation. Around the last decade, battery prices slid from 1165 to 155/156 until 2020.

The COVID-19 Aftermath on Indian EV Adoption

While the Indian automobile industry didn't escape the unforgiving effects of the pandemic, this period offered a chance for people to reflect on living a sustainable lifestyle. This high awareness presents a clear coast for a cleaner EV ecosystem in the country, with the industry predicting the next 3-4 years as a turning point to leave the Indian blueprint on the global sustainability map.

Arvind Kakru, Country Head, Rockwell Automation, echoes the positive industry sentiment with some exciting insights. He adds, "Innovative projects were announced in the last 6-8 months of the pandemic, something we haven’t witnessed before. The investor contribution is likely to flow down in this direction, and things will move forward aggressively."

While Bucket 2 localisation has begun, existing players and start-ups are likely to face challenges in technology, safety, and quality consistency aspects. The key to surviving and thriving is certainly automation.

Moneycontrol journalists were not involved in the creation of the article.

first published: May 11, 2021 06:02 pm