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Published on March 29th, 2016 | by Steve Hanley


India: Let’s Make All Vehicles Electric!

March 29th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of State for Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy, says his country is working on a plan to make every car in the country an electric vehicle by 2030. “We have created a working group under the leadership of road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, who is good at coming up with large scale programs. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and I are members of this group. We will meet in the first week of April to see if India can 100% be on electric vehicles by 2030,” Goyal said at the Conference on Young Indians organized by industry lobby Confederation of Indian Industry on March 26.

India new cars

Under the plan, the vehicles will be given without an upfront payment and will be paid for by users over a period of time from the savings made on fuel, he added. The idea is inspired by the success of the government’s campaign to promote energy-efficient LED bulbs, which has seen costs falling by 80% over 18 months. Power utilities distribute these bulbs and consumers pay for them over a period of time from the savings in their power bills.

The plan has the approval of the automobile industry. “It is a great, workable model. Promoting electric or hybrid cars through innovative schemes can reduce vehicular pollution, reduce fossil fuel dependence and will be beneficial for the consumer. We will work with the government on this,” said Vishnu Mathur, director general of industry lobby Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). India’s automobile industry is the sixth-largest in the world and accounts for 22% of the country’s total manufacturing output.

Goyal said the idea is to make the program entirely self-financing without any assistance from the government. “We do not need even one paisa from the government or the people. We will see if we can give electric cars for free and monetize the savings you can have (from not using fossil fuels) and pay for the vehicles,” he said.

“We have not yet decided who will manufacture these vehicles and where. We are thinking of scale and of leading the world rather than following the world. India will be the first country to think on such a scale,” said Goyal. Mathur said that achieving scale can help in promoting localization of cutting-edge components as well as local development of technology.

Bear in mind that these cars are likely to be bare bones basic transportation as opposed to the fully optioned transportation cocoons Americans are used to. But just think how this model could have ramifications for nations around the globe who are determined to lower their carbon emissions.

This announcement comes shortly after Important Media president Zachary Shahan made a presentation in Mumbai (last month) at a conference that focused on disruptive technology. Piyush Goyal was also present at that conference. Perhaps Zachary’s words and ideas had some influence on Goyal? We would like to think so. You can view Zachary’s entire presentation in the YouTube video below.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

  • Brian

    The solar electric ELF from Organic Transit in Durham, NC, would be a solution for India’s problem. As they are leap frogging dirty fossil fuels, and developing their wind power, and decentralized solar to provide power to their 400 million who lack electricity, low cost vehicles like the ELF could clean the air in their cities. Also the ELF recharges with a solar panel on it’s roof after 7 hours, so no fuel or charging infrastructure is needed. If India could mass produce cheap solar electric velomobiles like the ELF, the price would come down dramatically, and the masses could afford these cheap vehicles. India and other developing countries are leapfrogging dirty fossil fuels, and the transition into solar electric vehicles like the ELF, that already exist, would be a wise move to clean the air in their cities, and end their use of dirty oil.

  • Neel

    Good Job Zachary for planting the seed! and this is an AWESOME vision for the EV world! The LED bulb plan should be used in North America…supply the bulbs and pay the same total bill as your last billing cycle for a set amount of months to pay off the bulbs and enjoy 50to80% in savings!

  • wavelet

    100% electric by 2030? ROFL.
    Given current Indian conditions, 10% would be an excellent goal. India is much more rural than other populous countries, so the low-range EVs — and right now, that the only way to make them cheap — useful for China aren’t going to cut it. It makes much more sense to promote electric bicycles for short-range travel (<20km), add electric buses for cities, and electrify trains for longer range.

    • Calamity_Jean

      Well, the place to start is obviously in cities, then branch out to the countryside as batteries fall in price. I’ll be surprised if India gets it done in less than 20 years, however.

  • Sreehari Variar

    Gotta love the vision. Wish they take the right steps.

  • Hugo Hvidsten

    If they are going to be serious about this they have to start with standardization and then massive deployment of charging infrastructure.
    I understand that India uses “European” power distribution, with single phase 230Volt to smaller houses and 3 phase 400Volt for industri and larges private houses. If they go for mainly 3, 11, 22 and 43 KW AC charging with European Type2 connector then they can save enormous amounts of money compared to building a nationwide DC charging infrastructure.

    • wavelet

      A lot of households in India don’t have electricity at all.
      The grid as a whole is unreliable, with frequent blackouts & losing 25% of power to theft (people connecting directly to grid conductors, without bothering with a meter or an account). The concept of “reliable country-wide infrastructure” for anything India is a non-starter.
      A few years back, when Motorola introduced a rugged low-cost phone handset for India, a standard charger wasn’t deemed sufficient: Users could choose between a solar charger and a bicycle-dynamo driven one as well.

  • Najeeb Ullah

    it will b a dauting task. but even it is partially successful . it will have a great effects on the ev industry.

    • Simple INDIAN

      Daunting task sure it is. But now look at the LED light project, delp.in Everyday they are giving LED bulbs at Rs100/- per 9W bulb. Now this will replace in many places 40W GLS or 11W CFL. Even if 2 Watts is saved, on a national scale we can some single digit GWs, this for starters. By 2019, the Govt will save Rs45,000/- per annum or 21GWh per annum.

      Now Ministry of Energy wants to give out Energy Efficient Fans and airconditioners. At some places water pumps are being replaced. People in nearby villages to my city are getting solar PV water pumps.

      I would like to quote Mr. Elon Musk on this. ICE has efficiency of 25% (converting fuel into propulsiom) 75% wasted as HEAT. Now the same amount of fuel is converted into electricity in turbine can extract 60% energy. Again heat exchangers can add up another 5-10%.

      Electric two wheelers supported by Solar PV on roofs or community solar will be beneficial for every city and town as the commute distance is small. If sharing type of vehicles are introduced same vehicles will not create any traffic problem.

      So going electric is beneficial for the nation.

      • sivadasan

        Let us wait for the road the government propose. Ambitious targets would require clear, credible and consistent signals from policy makers, which would inspire confidence in financiers (Bank) and stakeholders. The results depend up on the policies and procedures. Take lessons from the World War II when most of the factories were asked to switch over to defence production. If the programme (100 per cent E-vehicle) is taken up on WAR-FOOTING there is chance of success. Optimism of leaders would generate confidence in stakeholders.

      • Bhargav

        Giving out bulbs and fans is not same as EVs.. Although this is a really great step, it has many technical problems which are very hard to overcome. India still struggling to provide stable grid connections. More EVs mean more load. Adding 1 EV is equivalent of adding one house to the same grid. So the 1st task should be to make the grid compatible.

        • sivadasan

          Tenzing Norgay did not stop climbing Mount Everest because it was tedious.

  • neroden

    Yessssss. Every major decision like this from a major government is a big deal.

  • Ronald Brakels

    India only produces roughly 20% of its own oil consumption and has no particular desire to import more. This will be especially true when oil prices climb back towards $100 a barrel, which they will do as depletion in current oil fields is not being matched by new oil fields and wells being brought online. Given that the costs of batteries are continuing to decline, I expect this goal to be substantially met.

  • I’m sure Zach’s presentation was eye opening and inspirational for many in the audience who are not constantly in touch with the pulse of the clean energy and clean transportation industry as many of us here are.

  • Omega Centauri

    Gotta love it!

  • TomK

    Sounds really interesting. I hope this pans out!

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