HT Auto EV Conclave: Taking electric vehicles to the masses in India
The move towards electric mobility is something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago but has now become a global phenomenon and the need of the hour. While the journey has already started, there is still quite a distance to be covered before reaching the desired destination. One of the most significant steps in the electric vehicle mission is to take it to the masses and encourage them to adopt battery-powered vehicles.
In India, this shift has already started with electric two-wheelers driving the EV space. Speaking at the HT Auto EV Conclave, Ravindran Nambiar – President, Wardwizard Innovations and Mobility Ltd, said, "There is vast adoption of EVs being pushed by all sides." He added that government policies have fuelled demand in EV two-wheeler space alongside the environmental consciousness of consumers. Further, affordability, lower running cost and multiple options available in the market of electric two-wheelers are helping take the idea of adopting electric vehicles to the masses.
Jeetender Sharma - Founder and MD at Okinawa, agrees that the multiple options available in the market are definitely helping customers choose among many of the battery-powered vehicles as per their preference. Sharma also said that having rivalry or competition in the e-two-wheeler market is helping create more awareness in the space. "Market size of two-wheeler EVs is very big. Everyone should come in to increase awareness," he added. "Now-a-days customers looking to buy EVs want to reduce carbon footprint, own a performance vehicle with good quality at right cost."
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Coming to the four-wheeler segment of EVs, Tata Nexon EV is the single biggest holder of market share in the country. However, speaking about not having competition in the space, Vivek Srivatsa, Head - Marketing; Passenger Cars, Tata Motors, said, "We don't take lack of competition as advantage. We welcome competition and in fact co-thinkers who can work together to accelerate the journey toward EVs. We would welcome other players to work together to get more adopters of EVs," he added.
Adding to that, Toyota Kirloskar Motor's Country Head and Senior Vice President, Vikram Gulati, said that Toyota has been a pioneer in bringing electrified vehicle technology to the world. He added that the need of the hour is to replace the fossil fuel vehicles, be it with any electrified technology - pure EVs, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel, among others.
Elaborating on Toyota's electric plans in India, Gulati said, "By 2025, all products in our portfolio will have electrified versions. Going forward, shift to electrification is primarily aimed at reducing pollution, and one thing that is common among all electrified vehicles is the electric powertrain," he added.
While the policies, products, competition and choices are all very important to take EVs to the masses, the other major roadblock is the charging infrastructure. Talking about the need for development of EV infra in the country, Srivatsa said that though public infra is important, better adoption of EVs will also depend on how customers learn to use their EVs efficiently. "Infrastructure will have lesser role to play from what we image right now. How people mange EVs, drive them efficiently and plan charging will play an important role," he added.
Srivatsa also said that going forward, home charging will be a primary source of charging while public fast chargers outside will come into play mostly for longer rides. Factors like battery capacity, quality and range will also play an important role.
Nambiar agreed with him, adding that customers should also be able to charge EVs conveniently like how we charge our mobile phones. This is especially true for electric two-wheelers that have smaller batteries and with solutions such as detachable battery, charging can be made convenient, he added.
The group of speakers believe that development of charging infrastructure will work out best when there is collaboration between all stakeholders and each one holistically participates and puts their best foot forward. "It is more of a collaboration than competition," said Nambiar.