In what might come as a setback to government's big push towards zero-emission cars, sales of electric four-wheelers in India declined significantly in the 2018 fiscal (Apr-Mar), according to latest data by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV). Number of e-cars sold in the country fell to 1,200 units from 2,000 units sold in the 2016-17 fiscal.
Commenting on the performance of electric cars, Sohinder Gill, Director Corporate Affairs, SMEV, said, “In the four-wheeler segment, lack of infrastructure and ambiguity over policy still remain the major deterrents holding the segment back.”
The Indian government has failed to walk the talk with regard to its electric mobility vision of 30 percent EVs by 2030. Besides, there were no concrete takeaways from the recently held mobility summit about the government’s EV ambition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to outline the much-requested EV policy but automakers were left unclear about India's electric future. Furthermore, phase II of the FAME scheme still remains some time away from implementation, as the PM has reportedly indicated that reducing the cost of batteries is more important than making vehicles affordable.
Meanwhile, sales of electric two-wheelers have more than doubled – 54,800 units in 2017-18 from 23,000 units in the previous year, pushing the overall EV sales to 56,000 units from 25,000 units. Gill attributed the surge in demand to the switch from lead acid batteries to lithium-ion batteries, thereby boosting performance and range of two-wheeler EVs.
The government's decision to discontinue the subsidy for electric two-wheelers driven by cheaper lead-acid batteries has also sparked the shift to lithium-ion. "However, the absence of adequate finance mechanism, the price gap between an electric two-wheeler and petrol two-wheeler and (lack of) awareness among citizens are challenges that need immediate redressal,” Gill said.