Electric Cars: Is India Ready For Them?

Thread Starter #1
Jan 16, 2016
At this point of time, the world is way past its first steps of vehicle electrification. Norway has the highest number of plug-in electric car ownership per capita followed by California, Netherlands, Sweden, and China. The cars we normally see in India are only a few numbers .

Electric cars that are officially available in India are:

1. Hyundai Kona.

2. Tata Tigor EV


4. Mahindra eVerito

Tata Nexon EV

Other electric vehicles:

Ather Energy
Bajaj Chetak (Currently available in Pune and Bangalore)
TVS iQube (Currently available in Pune and Bangalore)
Hero Electric Photon
Okinawa Raise
Yakuza Rubie


Electric buses in Bangalore by BMTC
India's first electric bus was launched in Bangalore in 2014.

Ashok Leyland launched its electric bus in October 2016.

Tata Motors launched its pure electric bus ‘Starbus Electric 9m’ and hybrid ‘StarBus Electric 12m’ in January 2017.

Goldstone Infratech supplied Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation with 25 electric buses in September 2017.

25 Tata Starbus Hybrid electric buses were delivered in Maharashtra in March 2018.[citation needed]

India's first intercity electric bus was inaugurated on 5 September which is operated between Mumbai and Pune by MSRTC

November 2019, 133 Electric buses have been deployed across Pune city in the first phase of its e-bus programme.

Whether or not India is ready for electric cars, we have to take into consideration a few factors:

1. Number of charging points

The fastest chargers in the world are 350 kW DC chargers (<30 minutes to full charge). Although a charging station may have a high rating, the charging time is still limited by the on-board charger rating of your car.

To shift to electric cars, we will need more fast chargers (22kW AC chargers at least). The distribution of chargers also has to be spread out more.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in India - Details

2. Power generation and distribution

If we were to shift to electric cars, we would charge our cars at home. And we would most likely charge them at night. This will create even higher peak demand than what we already have. Overall, we will be more dependent on electricity. To shift to electric cars, we should also take steps to become more self-sustainable in terms of power generation.

3. Technical capacity


AC charging
IS:17017 specifies Bharat EV Charging standard AC001. It uses 15A, 230V, 3.3kW, and an IEC 60309 connector.

Electric vehicles can be charged using a regular 220V 15A household supply that delivers around 2.5kW power. There is no policy or standard defined for at-home EV charging. Bharat EV specifications recommend the installation of a Residual Current Circuit Breaker to ensure safety and using an IEC 60309 Industrial connector, but a 3-pin 15A plug could also be used.[21]

For higher power AC charging (~22kW), Type 2 connectors are specified.The advantage of Type 2 connectors is that they can use three phase AC power for charging.

Benefits of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are around 3-5 times more efficient than internal combustion vehicles in utilising energy. Even if electric vehicles run on electricity produced from fossil fuels, the overall efficiency of electric vehicles is still higher and the pollution is less, because large thermal power plants are much more efficient than IC engines, and it is easier to control emissions from power plants than vehicle engines.
Electric vehicles save energy by regenerative braking. Around 30-70% of the energy used for propulsion can be recovered, with higher percentages applicable to stop-and-go city driving.

Air quality indices related to India indicate that the air in many cities of India is no longer healthy. Automobile related pollution has been one of the causes for this.

Aspects related to global warming needs a shift to automobile solutions that reduce / do not produce greenhouse gas emissions. If electric vehicles run on electricity produced from non-polluting sources of energy like hydro, solar, wind, tidal and nuclear, they reduce emissions due to vehicles almost to zero.

People living in some Indian cities are being affected by noise pollution. Some of the Indian cities have the worst noise pollution levels in the world. Electric vehicles are much quieter and may contribute to a reduction in noise pollution levels in the cities.

Energy efficiency and emission reduction has improved in automobiles. Yet, the growth in total number of vehicles on road, and the resulting total pollution and total energy consumption removed all gains made by betterment in energy efficiency and emission reduction by automobiles. Energy efficiency measures and pollution control measures did not keep pace with the sales growth in vehicles. The total number of vehicles registered in India has been 5.4 million,11 million, 33 million, 40 million and 210 million in the years 1981, 1986, 1996, 2000 and 2015. This indicates a 3500+ percentage growth in the total number of vehicles between 1981 and 2015. The total number of vehicles sold in India increased between 1,54,81,381 in 2010-11 and 2,04,69,385 in 2015-16 indicating a 30+ percentage growth in this five year period.

Through smart charging, electric vehicles can help to balance the balance-supply variations in the electricity grid, and provide a buffer against electricity supply failures. Electric vehicles have much fewer moving parts as compared to vehicles with IC engines. Thus, being simpler, they are cheaper and easier to maintain. Electric motors can deliver high torque at low speeds. As a result, electric vehicles deliver much better performance while starting off and on slopes than IC engine-powered vehicles.

Challenges faced
Lack of charging infrastructure

Cumulative electric vehicles per million people
The charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India has not been fully developed yet. For more details, see the section 'Charging Infrastructure' below.

The cost of EVs is very high mainly due to the cost of Li-ion cells. The battery packs are imported and cost a lot, about $275/KWh in India. This combined with the GST of 28% and the lack of lithium in India, further increase the cost of batteries. Most EVs in India provide a range of 110 km and cost between Rs 6-8 lakhs which does not give a cost advantage compared to higher range cars in the same price range.

Lack of renewable energy and grid infrastructure
In India electricity is mainly produced by burning coal, which produces a great amount of greenhouse emissions. With the introduction of EVs and charging infrastructure, the electricity demand will go up a lot and the whole point of introducing EVs to reduce GHG emissions would be ineffective, if all this electricity was produced by burning coal. Moreover, India’s Distribution companies hold debts and are unable to suffice the energy requirement of the whole country adequately. If EVs were to enter this equation, the sudden increase in electricity requirement would put extra load on these companies. Moreover, there are a lot of factors that would go into deciding pricing of the electricity as well the demand on the grid.

Charging infrastructure

The Government of India has declared public charging stations and EV charging businesses as a de-licensed activity. The government has laid down that there should be at least one charging station in a grid of 3km x 3km in cities and one station every 25 Km on both sides of highways. This coverage is to be achieved in cities with a population of more than 4 million and all existing expressways and important highways connected to these mega-cities by 2022. The second phase (3-5 years) will cover big cities like state capitals and UT headquarters.

There have been initiatives to set up community charging stations, as in the case of Plugin India facilitated charging stations. News reports have indicated about plans to provide solar-powered charging points at the existing fuel stations of the country.

There are companies like Tata Power, Fortum and others which are engaged in the business of electric vehicle charging. They have already installed all varieties of chargers - rapid DC chargers and level 2 AC chargers for all kinds of applications - public access, workplace charging, fleet charging, residential communities, malls, highways etc and have large plans to scale up.

Charging infrastructure, mainly setting up of level 2 charging at public level shall be the toughest challenge in terms of service integration for India. For normal charging, the charging time poses a serious problem as it ranges from 6 to 8 hours whereas for fast DC charging; cost & high renewable energy are the biggest factors which could pose a problem. It is also assumed that 10% of the charging infrastructure required in India shall be composed of fast charging station and rest 90% shall come from level 2 public charging setups.

On 22 May 2018 Ather Energy launched its charging infrastructure service in Bangalore called Ather Grid, with each charging station called 'Point'. The service is open to all electric vehicles but has been deployed where Ather plans to launch its own electric scooter.

To sum it up, there are still more steps we have to take for EV adoption. We're not quite there yet, but going towards it. Presently Major Cities are having few charging stations, but we must also need to have charging facilities in all suburban areas when the electric scenario will indeed improve.

(inputs/references from Wikipedia/other automobile blogs)

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