Webinar Highlights Role of Cities in Revving up Demand for Electric Vehicles

The deteriorating air quality and its attendant implications for public health and quality of life in urban areas makes it imperative for India to speed up its transition towards cleaner fuels in order to achieve the ambitious net zero target by 2070. The central and state governments are offering incentives such as interest subventions, subsidies, road tax and environmental tax exemption, registration fee exemption, FAME I and II schemes to encourage more manufacture and uptake of electric vehicles (EV), and are pushing for more public charging stations and state EV policies. However, actions taken by cities are crucial for sustaining EV adoption beyond the initial demand.

To buttress all these efforts, ICLEI South Asia supported 10 Indian cities — Coimbatore, Gangtok, Lakshadweep, Kochi, Meerut, Nagpur, Panaji, Rajkot, Shimla and Surat  — under its project ‘Supporting Indian cities to take leadership on electric mobility in India’. Kochi, Rajkot and Surat were supported in developing city-level action plans to mainstream e-mobility actions.

In this context, ICLEI SA organised a webinar to highlight the necessity of city-level action plans on the 10th of May 2023, which was attended by participants from four countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and India.

Speaking at the event, Mr Ashish Rao Ghorpade, Deputy Director, ICLEI South Asia, emphasised that while aggressive action towards electrification of transport is visible in many cities, a long-term approach is required, starting with strategising to set a vision, deliberating with stakeholders on the prioritised actions, collaborating and engaging with government and private stakeholders, and taking actions, evaluating their impact and using that information to scale them up.

Vivek Chandran, Director, Climate Insights and Cities, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, spoke about incentives from the central government and the states and the unique role of cities, followed by a discussion about the need for an e-mobility action plan and considerations for the same.

Dr. Rajan Chedambath, Director, C-HED, Kochi Municipal Corporation, shared information about the initiatives that are under way in the city for mainstreaming e-mobility, such as a pilot project for electrification of freight vehicles, shared mobility and developing kerb-side charging stations in collaboration with stakeholders. He said electrification presents an excellent opportunity to re-imagine urban mobility and reduce carbon emissions. The E-Mobility Action Plan developed for Kochi is a valuable tool for identifying and prioritising action areas with significant potential.

Mr M N Choudhary, Executive Engineer (E/M) GM (Engineering), Surat Municipal Corporation, said that Surat aspires to become a lighthouse city in India for the adoption of e-mobility. It was the first Indian city to formulate and adopt a comprehensive policy to accelerate EV adoption, and is now working on a priority target of achieving 100 % electric public transportation by 2025. The proactive and well-coordinated efforts of the city government and stakeholders have led to a remarkable surge of over 400 % in the number of EV sales since March 2022.

Mr Jasmin Rathod, Assistant Manager, Rajkot Municipal Corporation, said that his city has placed a high priority on electrifying shared mobility and public transportation, as they have a comparatively higher impact on GHG emission reduction. Rajkot is actively planning to fully replace its diesel vehicle fleet with EVs, especially to improve last-mile connectivity. The aim is to seamlessly integrate the transition to e-mobility into Rajkot’s development trajectory. The city is also involving self-help groups in the electrification of shared mobility, and is working on an approach to enable EV readiness in upcoming buildings.

During the discussion, Mr N Mohan, CEO of the Delhi EV Cell, mentioned that Delhi has achieved 12% EV registrations so far in 2023. The city is taking proactive steps related to the electrification of public transport, intermediate public transport and goods vehicles, and is working on programmes to provide livelihood opportunities to women and the underprivileged with electrification of last-mile connectivity. Delhi has 6000 e-buses currently, and the government plans to induct 8000 more in the next four years, leading to 80% electrification of public transport. The capital city is also exploring the potential of electrifying municipal heavy-duty vehicles.

The insightful session shed light on the initiatives prioritised by the cities for accelerating the adoption of EVs. E-mobility action plans for Kochi, Rajkot and Surat, as well as a handbook on mainstreaming e-mobility adoption in Indian cities, were launched during the session. The handbook is a guidance document for stakeholders to take coordinated actions towards EV adoption in their cities.

The reports can be accessed here: https://bit.ly/3BDipuY

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