Fri, May 24, 2019 - Page 10 News List

India planning to electrify all two, three wheelers

Reuters, NEW DELHI

The Indian government’s leading think tank has proposed electrifying most motorbikes and scooters within the next six to eight years to curb pollution and reduce dependency on fossil fuels, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The draft proposal from the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, which is chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and plays a critical role in policymaking, also recommends electrifying the nation’s popular three-wheeled autorickshaws, the source said.

India sold more than 21 million motorbikes and scooters in the year to March 31, making it one of the world’s biggest two-wheeler markets.

It sold just 3.3 million cars and utility vehicles in the same period.

Electric scooters accounted for just a fraction of the total, but sales more than doubled to 126,000 in the 12 months, from 54,800 a year earlier, according to data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.

“We have lagged in electrifying the car segment... India has decided to take the lead in two-wheelers and three-wheelers,” the source said.

If the proposal, which is being worked on with the ministries of heavy industries, road transport and power, is approved, it would open up a new market for global companies like Japan’s Yamaha Motor Co and Suzuki Motor Co, which are drawing up plans to launch electric two-wheelers in India.

Modi’s government set an ambitious target in 2017 to electrify all new cars and utility vehicles by 2030, but resistance from the auto industry forced it to scale back the plan.

The government now expects electric vehicles to make up 15 percent of all new sales in five years from less than 1 percent now.

Efforts to convince automakers to produce electric vehicles have flopped mainly because there is no clear policy to incentivize local manufacturing and sales, a lack of public charging infrastructure and the high cost of batteries.

The draft proposal goes someway toward rectifying that, offering incentives for the manufacture and sale of electric motorbikes and scooters while penalizing gasoline models, the source said, adding that the plan would be finalized after input from industry players.

Hero Electric, as well as start-ups Ather Energy, Twenty Two Motors and Okinawa, currently sell electric scooters in the country.

The Indian Cabinet in February approved a scheme to spend US$1.4 billion over three years to subsidize sales of electric and hybrid vehicles.

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