Could India Become an ‘Electric Cars Only’ Nation?

Could India Become an ‘Electric Cars Only’ Nation?
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Story Dated : December 20, 2017

India is one of the leading drivers of the Paris Climate Accord. As part of its lofty climate goals, the Indian government wants only electric vehicles (EV) to run on its roads by 2030.

Considering the current state of our automobile market, this is a very steep challenge. If the government wants to go full-electric, it may want to look at what Norway is doing.

Norway has the highest per capita number of electric cars in the world—more than 100,000 in a country of 5.2 million people. For a nation that cites fossil fuels as its primary source of export revenue, how did it manage to top the global EV charts?

“The reason Norway has such a high rate of EVs is heavy tax subsidy, but over time, we believe, it can be handled on a market basis. For that, some incentives on purchase is a good thing and should be considered by governments that have high ambitions. However, the charging infrastructure is what should be given the highest priority, and of course connecting the charging infrastructure to renewables and not coal,” said Vidar Helgesen, Norwegian minister of Climate and Environment, to a group of visiting Indian reporters. Nearly all the electricity in the country comes from hydropower.

The cost of installing a charging station costs anything above 600,000 Norwegian kroner (approximately Rs 42 lakh). Setting up these charging stations must take into consideration necessary logistics—location, proximity to a busy road or highway, and offering customers activities to pursue while their cars are charging, among other aspects.

In India, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation is launching the country’s first electric car charging station in Nagpur in partnership with cab-aggregating firm Ola.

City infrastructure is also adjusted to incentivise people into using EVs. For example, these vehicles are allowed to run on bus lanes, while no toll is charged for them on highways. Parking facilities for EVs are free, while new charging stations (both regular and fast-chargers) are regularly coming up along streets and highways.

It is not as if Norway is going entirely off fossil fuels now, but the process of phasing out has moved along in earnest. India could take note.