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No Emphasis on Plug-In Hybrid is a Yawning Gap in India’s EV Mission

No Emphasis on Plug-In Hybrid is a Yawning Gap in India’s EV Mission

Snapshot: Indian government needs to promote the hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars in order to achieve a sustainable growth towards pure electric mobility.

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In this wild wild world of automobiles, enthusiasts and car owners are being painfully crucified by the steeply rising fuel prices. If you look at the fuel price of the last couple of months, the figures will surely give you heartache. While the rising fuel price are burning the pocket of the car owners, the government has its own reason to justify the hike. Yes, at one of point of time they dubbed it as an effort to promote the zero emission pure electric mobility. But, are we really ready to accept the all-electric mobility? Is there any other option to achieve the greener mobility?

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The first question would probably remain unanswered by many in this country. The reason is pretty obvious. There are lack of infrastructure and lack of consistency in power supply, two things needed at the very first place for the electric mobility to be successful. Last but not the least, EVs in India are pricey as hell!

Comparatively, the plug-in hybrids come lot cheaper addressing the second question. Also, they effectively bridge the gap between a conventionally powered car and a fully electric vehicle. Now, given that, the plug-in hybrid cars can be true saviors for the Indian auto industry, if government is really keen in introducing a greener mobility solution in coming decades.

Here comes the most important question. Is the Indian government doing the needful to promote plug-in hybrid vehicles? The answer is crystal clear. No.

The steps that could bring a practical and affordable greener mobility solution are being ignored by the government, despite its willingness to see India as a green mobility country by the end of next decade. Clearly there is a yawning gap between the dream and planning. While implementing GST, the government stated that it wants to thrive for pure electric mobility, but not hybrid or plug-in hybrids. The strategy was reflected in the GST slabs, where the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models were categorized in the same slab as the luxury cars. Something to be surprised!

If we look at two popular plug-in hybrid vehicles in India, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS and Maruti Suzuki Ertiga SHVS, they come powered by a mild-hybrid technology. These cars come with more value for money compared to the Mahindra e2o Plus and Mahindra eVerito, two mass produced fully electric vehicles in India.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles combine a small electric motor with the conventional internal combustion engine. The electric motor draws energy from a high capacity lead acid battery. Regenerative braking and idle-start/stop function are two most interesting things of the plug-in hybrid technology. This technology helps in saving fuel and minimizing the emission, an objective performed similarly as the EVs but in an cheaper way than the pure electric cars. The good thing for the plug-in hybrid vehicles is you don’t need to be afraid of the unavailability of charging stations while driving the car.

Indian customers are still quite conservative in terms of accepting new technology. Their acceptance for petrol powered cars than diesel models came very slowly. Keeping an eye on that, you cannot expect the country to adopt fully electric mobility at once. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models can play key role to inch forward to the desired zero emission mobility. For that, government needs to take some positive steps that will encourage the customers to opt for plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars over conventional fuel powered models.

It is not that Indian government is not doing anything to promote the hybrid and plug-in hybrid mobility, but there are more things to do. First, the government should lower the tax rate significantly for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Secondly, the automakers should be encouraged to launch more hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the country rather than conventional fuel powered models. The FAME scheme would play vital role in this drive if promoted rightly.

So far, it is evidently clear that India needs more time to adopt the pure electric mobility. Till then, hybrid and plug-in hybrids can create the right space for the zero emission vehicles and for that, the government and automakers need to work together. Instead of forcing the automakers to submit themselves towards the government policy, there should be a healthy co-operative atmosphere that will ensure a greener and cleaner India.

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