By K R Sudhaman
Eco-friendly electric-vehicles might have had a slow start in the country and perhaps faced some policy hiccups as well. But like solar power and other renewable energy, the slow and delayed start notwithstanding, EV manufacturing has been making rapid progress lately. In certain cases solar power has become a preferred first choice and its tariff has become highly competitive to conventional power. In the case of electric vehicles, the start has been slow and tardy and the covid pandemic pushed it down further. With the economy witnessing revival in recent months, it is now quite evident that the automotive industry might witness sea-change and internal combustion engines will become a thing of the past in the not too distant future.
India is certainly on its way to becoming a global EV hub and the Indian electric vehicle market, now valued at $5 billion in 2020, is expected to leapfrog to $47 billion by 2026, registering nearly 45 per cent growth year on year. Karnataka was the first state to introduce a comprehensive EV policy and is making some headway. But Tamil Nadu, which recently announced its EV policy, has lately been moving forward at a commendable pace. This is not surprising in view of the ecosystem in the state for automotive industry. Already it is known as Detroit of India in view of huge investments in the sector. The major players in the auto industry include Ashok Leyland, Hyundai, Ford, BMW, TVS, Simpsons, Enfield, Yamaha, Citron, Renault-Nissan, Mahindra and Mahindra, TAFE India. That apart it has several auto clusters in the length and breadth of the state manufacturing auto parts. There is also ship building industry, railway coach factory and bicycle industry.
After being a major auto hub, Tamil Nadu has now started attracting huge investments in EVs and its parts and reports suggest that Rs 18,000 crore have already been committed since 2019. The states has several innovators in the sector and IIT Madras centre for battery engineering for electric vehicles has already converted ideas into commercial use.
As a result, the world’s largest e2wheeler factory has been set up by Ola in Krishnagiri district bordering Bengaluru. The factory, which will soon start delivering e2wheelers,is expected to have the capacity to roll out a vehicle every 2 seconds. Lucas-TVS is setting up a giga battery manufacturing factory in Thiruvallur, close to Chennai. Ola and Lucas TVS are investing Rs 2,500 crore each. That apart, TVS Electric is investing over Rs 1,000 crore to manufacture e2wheelers in Hosur, a border town adjoining Bengaluru. Other major companies setting up manufacturing facility in the state in this sector include Ather Energy, Srivaru Motors, Ampere Vehicles, Byd India, QMax. The investments range from Rs 600 crore to Rs 2500 crore each.
Besides, Ashok Leyland is ramping up its commercial electric vehicle manufacturing. There is a buzz going that TATAs may buy the ailing Ford Motors in Chennai and Sanad in Gujarat and that there is every possibility these car plants may be converted to manufacture electric vehicles. Tata Motors are leaders in the manufacture of electric cars in the country and the possible acquisition would enable the country to ramp up production of electric cars in a big way. Ampere Vehicles, which was recently acquired by Greaves Cotton, already has a R&D facility in Coimbatore and its two wheeler plant is coming up in Ranipet. The state government has already announced setting up of two dedicated EV parks in Chennai and Coimbatore and with 100 per cent foreign direct investment allowed, several foreign players are expected to set up units in the state both for electric vehicle and components manufacturing.
One of the problems in promoting e-vehicles is the availability of charging facility and battery swap facility. This government needs to step in to expedite the development of this infrastructure rapid growth of E vehicles.
Several Tamil Nadu based players have already applied for PLI – productive linked incentives—announced by the Union government for EVs and are awaiting clearance from NITI Aayog. The picture is not all that gloomy and other states, which were not that aggressive initially, are not far behind in their efforts to attract investments in the sector.
According to an independent study by CEEW centre for energy finance, the EV market in India will be a $206 billion opportunity by 2030 if the country maintains steady progress to meet its ambitious target of achieving 100 per cent electrification. This would require a cumulative investment of $180 billion. The targets are steep but experts believe it is achievable if states take necessary steps like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. There are now some positive developments in EVs in states like Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Telangana. (IPA Service)