The government of India has announced it wants only electric cars to be sold in the country starting in the year 2030. That’s only a little more than a decade from now. The International Energy Agency calls the plan “ambitious,” and here’s why.
To meet the goal, eight times as many electric cars will need to be sold in India than the total of all electric cars in the world as the end of 2015. Where will all those cars come from and how will people afford them?
Right now, Mahindra, one of India’s largest vehicle manufacturers, sells its e2O Plus electric car for Rs 6,26,387 rupees, not including taxes. Its least expensive gasoline powered car costs only one third as much. Coincidentally, Mahindra announced just last week that it is suspending sales of the e2O in the UK due to disappointing sales. The car can best be described as “basic transportation.”
“It is an ambitious plan,” the IEA says. “Regardless of the exact formulation of the target and the extent of its long-term achievement, it is a good step that will help India to be among the global leaders in deploying a technology that is crucial to temper increasing oil import needs, local air pollution in cities, and limit CO2 emissions.”
India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. For decades, it relied on coal to power its factories, but recently it has embraced solar power instead. That commitment has resulted in some of the lowest tenders for solar power plants in the world. Perhaps a government preference for electric cars would exert similar downward pressure on their selling price as well. “These are the types of ambitious targets that drive transformations,’’ says Clay Stranger, director of the Rocky Mountain Institute.
In order to achieve its goal, the government will need to increase the number of electric car charging stations in the country says Tushar Bansal, a director at energy consultant Ivy Global Energy. “The electric vehicles today can only go a limited distance before requiring recharging,” Bansal says. “Because of the number of infrastructural additions and changes required, replacing gasoline cars with electric vehicles is expected to be a longer drawn-out affair as the market will take time to adjust.”
There were only 5,000 electric cars in all of India at the end of 2016 according to the IEA. By comparison, more than three million new cars are sold in India every year. The government’s plan is ambitious, but if it only reaches half its goal, it will be a giant stride forward for India and the world.