Push for greater electric mobility in India - GulfToday

Push for greater electric mobility in India

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.


A view of Bombay Stock Exhcange building.

Making its presence felt in the global electric mobility market, India announced last month that it would offer $1.4 billion in subsidies for both buyers and manufacturers of electric vehicles and impose higher import tariffs to spur domestic companies to build vehicles. The government aims for 30 per cent of its public transport to be electric by 2030, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasising that he wants India to lead across the value chain from battery production to smart charging to electric vehicle manufacturing.

At present, India has only two electric car manufacturing companies, Tata motors and Mahindra. International car giants Hyundai and Kia Motors are developing electric fleets designed specifically for the Indian Market, with Kia signing a memorandum of understanding with Andhra Pradesh to aid in the growth of electric mobility in the state. Meanwhile, many cities planned trials of electric buses including Hyderabad, Chennai and Guwahati.

Experts have said that it is possible to create a rapid uptake of electric vehicles in Asia through taxes. In Nepal, cars running on petrol and diesel are taxed at 220 per cent when purchased, while electric cars at 10 per cent. Japan used two approaches in tackling the apprehensible air pollution of the 1970s. First, they put in place strict regulations on factories emitting greenhouse gases in the form of the Air Pollution Control Act. Second, they set strict standards for emissions from vehicles, both passenger and freight. Vehicles that cleared the stern regulations could get tax reductions, which were a great incentive to buyers as Japan has heavy taxes on vehicles.

Of the $1.4 billion released by the Indian government, about $1.2 billion has been earmarked for subsidies, $140 million for charging infrastructure, and some $5 million for administrative expenses and advertising.

Clean air policy actions: The issue of renewable energy components availability in lower-middle income countries, remains a challenge. Often essentials such as solar panels or lithium batteries are not produced locally, or at least not at scale, which prevents the private sector from entering renewable energy infrastructure. Yet 92 per cent of Asia and the Pacific’s population – about 4 billion people – are exposed to levels of air pollution that pose a significant risk to their health.

According to a recent report ‘Air Pollution in Asia Pacific: Science-based Solutions’, millions of people in the Asia and Pacific region could enjoy longer, healthier lives if measures to control and prevent air pollution were successfully implemented. The report states that if governments adopted 25 clean air policy actions – including promoting the use of electric vehicles – there would be less of a need for expensive pollution control. The $300–600 billion per year investment would be only one-twentieth of the increase of $12 trillion increase in wealth by 2030.

It points out that less than eight per cent of the population of Asia and the Pacific enjoyed healthy air – within the World Health Organization Guideline – in 2015. Improving the lives of such a vast number of people requires action to reduce the emissions that result in the formation of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone, both of which damage human health and well-being, as well as food production and the environment. State-of-the-art modelling has been conducted on several hundred potential ways to reduce air pollution. The most effective 25 measures were selected as the best proven options, benefiting human health and the environment with regard to food security, air, water and soil quality, biodiversity and climate, whilst helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Measures that are widely adopted in the current emission control legislation of Asian countries will avoid a further deterioration in air quality. One of the key findings of the report is that even with economic growth of about 80 per cent by2030, the effective implementation of conventional emission controls could maintain mean population exposure to air pollution at the current levels and reduce exposure in some areas.

For many countries in Asia and the Pacific, ambient air quality and emissions standards are the starting point of efforts to encourage power plants, industries and other sources to adopt these conventional controls. When formulating standards, environmental agencies across a growing number of countries in Asia and the Pacific have become better at making the case for introducing and then tightening standards. This is evident in both the increasing overall number of countries adopting some level of standards and in the number of countries with more stringent levels of standards.