HT Auto EV Conclave: Nitin Gadkari confident that EVs will overtake ICEs by 2050
Electric mobility has time and again been touted as one of the most significant solutions to reduce vehicular emissions that are hazardous to human health and the environment. With the movement to adopt battery-powered, zero-emission vehicles already being spread over the world, India has also shown notable progress in the last three years.
Speaking at the HT Auto EV Conclave, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari backed the country's advancement in the electric vehicle (EV) mission. He noted that support, encouragement and awareness for EVs provided via central and state governments' EV policies, subsidies, incentives and exemptions have played an important role in India's adoption and progress towards electric mobility.
The minister also urged various industry stakeholders to come together to make India the world's largest EV manufacturing and supplying hub. "Mutual coordination, cooperation and communication among all stakeholders is certainly going to help to bring more productive research in the EV mission," he said.
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Confident that EVs will overtake fossil-fuel-run vehicles by 2050, Gadkari said, "Both battery electric vehicle and fuel-cell vehicle technologies are complimentary to each other and are all set to overtake fossil-run automotive by 2050." He added that various technological researches are being conducted in the country to stay in the EV fast lane. "Indigenous battery tech, localisation of components and huge domestic demand would make EVs the most affordable means of transport in coming years," he added.
Gadkari, at the HT Auto EV Summit, elaborated how affordability of electric vehicles is linked to localisation of EV parts as well as indigenous manufacturing of batteries for such vehicles. Noting that battery is the most important component of an electric vehicle and constitutes at least 50% of its upfront cost, he informed that various researches are going on in the country to develop indigenous and alternative battery technologies. "I am pursuing research for its (lithium-ion battery) substitute such as zinc-ion, aluminium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. Low cost raw materials can be made available from scrapping of old vehicles," he said. "Metals like aluminium, iron and lithium can also be extracted."
The government had last year rolled out the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for various industries including an outlay of over ₹57,00 crore for the automobile and auto component industry over a period of five years. Around ₹18,000 crore was approved for development of advanced cell chemistry battery storage manufacturing. Gadkari said that these incentives further aim to encourage indigenous development of EVs so as to bring down their upfront cost. "In next two to three years, mass production of EVs will have same capital cost as petrol and diesel versions today," he added.
Apart from battery-powered vehicles, Gadkari also backed various other means of alternate and clean fuel. He touted green hydrogen to be a zero carbon and sustainable option, especially for heavy and long-haul vehicles such as trucks and buses used for logistical operations. "We are aggressively pursuing research on green hydrogen as a transport fuel," he said. Alternatives such as hydrogen-blended CNG is also being looked at for future use.
The minister also said at the conclave that efforts are being made to formalise the procedure of retrofitting of existing ICE engines with CNG, LNG or electric powertrains. Though there are various safety and compliance-related challenges and this industry is at a nascent stage, the government plans to provide incentives to develop this procedure for STUs that cannot afford buying new electric vehicles.