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Is India Ready for Electric Vehicles?

Electric vehicles (EVs) hold promise in addressing key environmental concerns, including greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and fossil fuel dependency. Yet, the widespread adoption of EVs in India encounters several hurdles such as limited charging infrastructure, high initial costs, low consumer awareness, and uncertain policies. 

This article explores the present situation of EVs in India, explores opportunities and barriers for their growth, and proposes potential strategies to expedite their expansion.

Current Status of EVs in India

According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), there were approximately 1.8 million electric vehicles (EVs) registered in India as of March 2021. This accounts for only 0.7% of the total vehicle population in the country. Among these EVs, a majority are two-wheelers (1.6 million), followed by three-wheelers (0.2 million) and four-wheelers (0.01 million). 

The sluggish adoption of EVs in India is due to:

1. Limited Charging Infrastructure

India has only 3,000 public EV charging stations, compared to 68,000 in China and 41,000 in the US4. EV users, especially those without private parking or in apartments, need charging ports. The charging stations are primarily in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad5, leaving many places unserviced.

2. High Upfront Costs

Batteries account for about 40% of the entire car cost, making EVs more expensive than conventional automobiles. MG Comet EV, the cheapest electric automobile in India, costs Rs. 7.98 lakh, whereas the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, the cheapest petrol car, costs Rs. 2.99 lakh. 

Price-sensitive Indian consumers are deterred by the price gap between EVs and conventional automobiles, which includes installing charging equipment at home and paying for electricity at public charging stations.

3. Low Consumer Awareness

Many Indian consumers are ignorant of EVs’ lower maintenance costs, fuel efficiency, and pollutants. They also misunderstand EV performance, reliability, and safety, including battery life, range anxiety, fire danger, and resale value. These variables affect consumer opinion and desire for EVs, which are generally considered inferior or dangerous.

4. Policy Uncertainty

The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which provides subsidies and incentives for EV manufacturers and buyers, the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020, which aims to sell 6-7 million hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020, and the National Mission on Transformative. 

Opportunities and Barriers for EVs in India

Despite the challenges mentioned above, there are also several opportunities and drivers for the growth of EVs in India. Some of these are:

  • India faces rising environmental concerns due to its high pollution rate and growing demand for mobility. Electric vehicles (EVs) can help reduce transport emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. 
  • By pursuing a shared, electric, and connected mobility future, India can save 64% of road-based energy demand and 37% carbon emissions by 2030. 
  • Technological innovation in the EV sector can enhance performance, efficiency, and attractiveness, with battery and charging technologies improving energy density, durability, and safety.

On the other hand, a few barriers and risks may impede the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) in India. These include:

  • For electric vehicles (EVs) to gain widespread adoption in India, various stakeholders must come together and collaborate effectively. This includes the central and state governments, automakers, battery manufacturers, charging service providers, power utilities, regulators, financiers, consumers, and civil society. 
  • However, currently, there is a lack of coordination and collaboration in EV development efforts. This results in redundant work being done, inefficient use of resources, inconsistent outcomes, and conflicts of interest among stakeholders. 
  • The transition to EVs carries significant social and economic implications as well. It can impact employment opportunities for millions of people involved in the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) value chain. 
  • Additionally, it can have implications on the government’s fiscal revenue and pose challenges to ensure stability and reliability in the electricity system.

Possible Ways to Accelerate EV Growth in India

To overcome the challenges and leverage the opportunities for EVs in India, some possible ways to accelerate their growth are:

  • To promote the development of electric vehicles (EVs) in India, the government must establish a comprehensive policy framework. This framework should align with national goals related to economic security, environmental sustainability, economic growth, and social equity. To ensure effectiveness and consistency, this policy should be implemented across different sectors and levels of governance.
  • Additionally, the government needs to facilitate the establishment of a reliable charging infrastructure that takes into account electricity demand and the availability of renewable energy sources. By supporting local manufacturing of EVs, they can reduce reliance on imports and create economies of scale.
  • Furthermore, raising awareness among consumers about EV benefits is essential. It involves addressing misconceptions surrounding EVs and promoting a positive image associated with their usage. Finally, fostering collaboration and innovation among various stakeholders through dialogue platforms will help drive progress in this sector.


The introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) has the potential to revolutionize India’s transport sector, leading to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and dependency on fossil fuels. However, several obstacles hinder the widespread adoption of EVs in India. These challenges include a scarcity of charging infrastructure, expensive upfront costs for consumers, limited awareness among potential buyers, and uncertain policies. 

By addressing these issues and implementing measures promoting EV usage, India can position itself as a global leader in the EV market while simultaneously achieving its energy security, environmental sustainability, economic growth, and social equity goals.

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