On December 28, Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways told the Indian Express that electronic vehicle manufacturer Tesla will commence operations in India towards the beginning of 2021.
"Tesla is preparing to start operations in India by early 2021. I am sure that there are a lot of EV which are equal to Tesla from the technology point of view. Indian manufacturers are doing a lot of research and changes. In due course of time you will get electric cars which will be equal to Tesla. I am confident and the cost will be very less," Gadkari said.
With vehicular combustion being one of the major sources of air pollution in the country, the launch of electric vehicles in India has been increasingly seen as a growing need.
Tesla and other electric vehicle makers have been eyeing the lucrative Indian market for a while now, but the plans have so far been stalled due to lack of supporting infrastructure - in particular the charging points needed to charge the battery of the vehicle. So where do electric vehicle (EV) customers go to get their cars charged?
Building Charging Points
Currently there are two types of charging stations that exist for EVs in India - those that could be installed at homes, and those the government intends to install at charging stations.
Delhi, one of the worst effected cities from air pollution, currently has around 70 charging stations, and the local government is currently trying to identify the areas to build more as part of its EV policy. However, the current number of charging stations are too low for potential EV buyers to make the shift from fuel to electric.
Gadkari recently announced that the government plans to erect one e-charging point at 69,000 petrol pumps around the country.
In October, the government invited proposals from interested parties to build and manage charging points on crucial expressways like Mumbai – Pune, Ahmedabad-Vadodara, Delhi-Agra, Bengaluru-Mysore, Bengaluru-Chennai, Surat – Mumbai, Agra – Lucknow, Eastern Peripheral and Hyderabad-ORR, under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) scheme (dubbed as FAME India scheme), which is currently in its second phase.
How Much Would It Cost To Charge An EV
With petrol prices reaching an all-time high recently, shifting to battery operated vehicles comes as a great alternative, especially considering the fact that the government had earlier announced its decision to reduce the goods and service tax (GST) from 18% to 5% on EVs and chargers.
A Tesla Model 3 standard model has a battery capacity of 50 kWh, and an efficiency of 16 kWh/100 km. At full charge, it can therefore cover more than 300km. Assuming the electricity cost at ₹7/kWh (which is the tariff in Delhi for higher-end electricity consumers), the overall cost of fully charging an uncharged Tesla Model 3 would be ₹350, which would cover around 300km.
Compare that to a typical petrol-operated sedan like Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire - with a mileage of 23 kmpl, it would require 13 litres of petrol to cover a distance of 300km. With the current petrol cost in Delhi at Rs 83.71 per litre, it would cost around Rs 1,088 to cover the same distance - more than three times the electricity cost of charging the Tesla.
While Tesla would be inaccessible for many middle-class households in India, cheaper alternatives such as the Mahindra e20 and e20 Plus will still be a cost effective alternative as compared to petrol-operated vehicles. The only difference would be the lower capacity battery at 11-15kWh, providing a coverage of between 110 km to 140 km. This would be especially beneficial for those looking to commute on a daily basis.
However, for Indian consumers to shift to electric, a lot depends on the success of placing the charging stations across the country in the next few years.