Asia LEDS Partnership: Webinar Highlights Role of Private Sector in Promoting Electric Mobility in India

The Clean Mobility Community of Practice of the Asia LEDS Partnership organized a webinar titled ‘Role of Private Sector in promoting Electric Mobility in India on 23rd June, 2023. The webinar was organized in the context of increased emissions from the transport sector in India which leads to adverse impacts associated with the emissions. In order to control emissions from the transport sector, Government of India has encouraged the adoption of electric mobility to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and promote electric vehicles as the primary alternative to internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles.  As a result, various private players have shown interest and initiated their start-up businesses focusing on electric mobility.

The webinar had speakers representing both the public and private sectors who discussed about the regulatory framework specific to electric mobility as well as the business models adopted by the private sector that have supported in the expansion of the electric mobility sector in India.

The discussions during the webinar revolved around legal framework at national framework adopted as a supportive policy environment by the state governments, policies specific to electric mobility for the private sector, appropriate environment for EV startups, interested geographies for expansion etc.

Mr. Gautam Sharma, Young Professional, NITI Aayog presented the initiatives taken up by the different ministries with the Government to create a conducive environment for the promotion of electric mobility in India and the role that private sector can play. He mentioned that the Government’s vision for the future of mobility in Inda was based on 7 Cs that stood for Common, Connected, Convenient, Congestion-free, Charged, Clean energy and Cutting-edge mobility. The vision focused mainly on public transport, two and three wheelers, shared mobility, EV manufacturing value chain, charging infrastructure, and the advanced and niche chemistry cells in order to enhance the R&D as well the existing battery ecosystem in India.

He also spoke about  the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage that is hosted by NITI Aayog.  Initially the mission was to drive clean, connected, and shared holistic mobility initiatives. However, the vision was revised from the initial 7 C’s to develop a sustainable and holistic mobility ecosystem and to also ensure seamless connectively for passengers, as well as goods and services. Thus, including logistics into the electric mobility ecosystem in India. The mandates of the mission, was first to drive strategies for transformative mobility and the second to determine the contours across the entire EV value chain. The objective of the mission was to set up a simple diversion to improve the GHG emissions and bring zero emission vehicles to India in order to reduce oil import dependence from other countries. Thus, a significant boost was given to the country’s manufacturing sector to develop infrastructure for zero emission vehicle components.

Regarding the promotion with the EV value chain, he spoke of the different interventions and schemes both upstream and downstream measures that NITI Aayog had spearheaded, that also included financial incentives and risk sharing mechanisms developers by the other government ministries, such as Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Power, among others.

Mr. Anmol Jaggi, Co-Founder, BluSmart Mobility emphasized that currently there are close to 4000 electric taxis that ply in Delhi and about 500 electric taxis in Bangalore and their demand is increasing at a high rate, therefore there is a need to cater to this upcoming demand. He also spoke of the growth progression of his company and the constraints within which they have to operate in comparison with internal combustion engine taxis. Mr. Jaggi elaborated on the unique algorithm that BluSmart has developed to receive real-time information on the battery charging status of taxis when allotting them a particular ride. BluSmart also monitors information on the real time availability of charging infrastructure, in order to direct the taxis drivers to available charging stations.

He mentioned that the National Government’s notification on removal of specific licensing for charging infrastructure was a significant step for the company to establish its own charging infrastructure for its fleet. Government initiatives like Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) have provided several subsidies to lower the capital expenditure costs of these vehicles. He mentioned that the 5% GST on the electric cars was helpful however the flipside was that the charging infrastructure continued to be taxed as 18% GST. A key request from the private sector has also been to the Government to bring down the GST of charging infrastructure as well to 5%. The exemption of road tax has been beneficial. He also suggested that the national government should create a trajectory of the phase out of subsidies and inform the stakeholders in advance, to ensure that the electric mobility market has enough time to adjust.

He noted that in terms of geographic expansion there was much greater demand than the supply, and thus for the current year, BluSmart would be focused on increasing the fleet in Delhi and Bangalore. Responding to a question from the audience, he emphasized on the role of car dealerships as advocates for electric vehicles, as they are the first to advice customers on the optimal choices.

Mr. Param Mandloi, Co-Founder of Chartered Bikes, spoke of the growing electric two-wheeler market in India. He stated that electric vehicles can help in bringing down the distributed pollution in Indian cities.

He gave an overview of the scale of deployment of the Chartered Bikes E scooters that had started as a public bike sharing company. Gradually their demand grew for the low-speed scooters in educational institutions, warehouses and housing societies. Chartered Bikes focuses on micro-mobility and mobility as a service, and the main focus is in smaller cities of India.  The e-scooters are also being used by food delivery companies such as Zepto and Zomato.  The company also trains its executives on maintenance of the e-2wheelers, with a larger focus on how to replace a specific component or repair it at the local level. This is to reduce the inconvenience of going to service centers for small repairs.

He mentioned that the private sector can influence the uptake of EVs in a significant way by introducing user incentives, corporate electric fleets, setting up charging infrastructures and also investing in EV technology to develop more affordable EVs and expand the charging infrastructure in the country.

Chartered Bikes has been advocating to corporates to encourage their clients to move away from Internal Combustion Engine vehicles and create a differentiator by subsidizing electric vehicles along with providing charging infrastructure on their campuses.

He also spoke of the pillars of success that has in the recent past supported the expansion of the EV market. This included specialization in specific domains such as research in battery charging technology, etc.; greater access to finance; user push through provision of subsides for other types of EVS such as low speed e-scooters, e-cycles and e-3wheelers. He suggested that these initiatives should also be part of the FAME scheme. There are also structural requirements that need to be put into place. Furthermore, the manufacturing processes are to be made cleaner, and private companies should move to more sustainable production practices.

Mr. Satyen Sail, Chief Operation Officer, Magenta Mobility, shared insights in the operations of the company which is an integrated mobility player and is present in 7 cities of India, namely Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi, Gurugram, Noida. Magenta Mobility also owns India’s largest fleet of e-3 wheelers. They have their own charging depots which are installed with both fast and slow charging.

Magenta Mobility provides e-mobility services by inhouse charging products encompassing fleet charging and parking solutions; e-mobility services facilitating last mile logistics and technology services such as fleet charging and management software. A significant effort that Magenta Mobility undertook was to standardize the EV charging rates at all the charging depots across the States in order to make it more favorable to the drivers traveling inter-states.

Overall, the deliberations during the webinar focused on listening from the government and private sectors in India working on promoting and adopting electric mobility. It highlighted the role of private sector in promoting electric mobility and creating the necessary infrastructure for supporting the demand. A key aspect to interest to the audience was the behavioral aspect of customers to adopt EVs. Through the discussions it was also made clear that both the private and the public sector efforts needed to work together to ensure the successful expansion of the electric mobility sector and to transition to a low carbon economy.

A total of 69 participants attended the webinar which allowed for an engaging discussion between the speakers and the attendees. This webinar will be followed by a second webinar in a couple of months, focusing more on learning from Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEMs) sector for electric mobility in India.

Access the recording of the webinar via this link.

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