Two-wheeler makers given 2 weeks to draw up EV plans

Chennai: The government’s policy think tank, Niti Aayog has asked motorcycle and scooter manufacturers to come up with a plan for electric models within two weeks.

The announcement comes after manufacturers opposed the government’s proposals on electric two-wheelers, saying it would disrupt the sector.

The government’s push towards electrification of vehicles began when the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme was rolled out mid way through the decade.

With four-wheeler manufacturers batting against the Centre’s move towards adopting electric cars in 2017, the recent push is seen as the second phase towards adoption of new modes of mobility.

Niti Aayog officials met with executives from companies including Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp and TVS recently, giving them two weeks to come up with the plan, according to one of the executives, Reuters reported.

The think-tank, which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and plays a key role in policymaking, had recommended that only electric models of scooters and motorbikes with engine capacity of more than 150cc must be sold from 2025.

Automakers opposed the proposal and warned that a sudden transition, at a time when auto sales have slumped to a two-decade low, would cause market disruption and job losses.

India is one of the world’s largest two wheeler markets with sales of more than 20 million scooters and motorbikes last year.

During Friday’s meeting government officials argued that switching to EVs is of national importance so India does not miss out on the global drive towards environmentally cleaner vehicles, one of sources said.

But industry executives responded that a premature switch with no established supply chain, charging infrastructure or skilled labour in India, could result in India losing its leadership position in scooters and motorbikes, the second source said.

“There were clearly drawn out positions,” said the source, adding there were “strong opinions” at the meeting.

Niti Aayog is working with several other Ministries on the recommendations, which are part of an electrification effort to help India reduce its fuel import bill and curb pollution.

The proposal also includes incentives for local production of batteries, an increase ownership cost of gasoline cars and forming a policy to scrap old vehicles.

The panel has also suggested measures such as directing taxi aggregators like Uber and Ola to convert 40 per cent of their fleets to electric by April 2026.

Executives from EV start-up Ather Energy, ride-sharing firm Ola and officials from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), an industry trade body, also attended the meeting, the report noted.

In numbers
Domestic two-wheeler sales grew by 4.86 per cent in the financial year 2018-19 at 21,181,390 units compared to 20,200,117 units dispatched in the previous fiscal, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

Overall motorcycle sales grew 7.7 per cent to 13,599,678 units in the fiscal, an increase of two per cent in market share to 64.2 per cent of total two-wheeler sales.