Webinar Insights: E-Mobility Evolution in India

Electric mobility in India is fast-evolving in terms of technology enhancement and value chain formation. It is transcending beyond its distinguished identity as the “cleaner mode of transportation” and is closing the gap on the conventional ICE-vehicles by achieving significant improvements in reliability & cost economics in the past couple of years.

To ensure the development of a sustainable EV industry, it is highly imperative to have a robust collaboration between all relevant stakeholders and to help enforce the growth drivers for market supply and demand. With the aim of inviting a wider array of relevant ideas, JMK Research & Analytics organized a webinar themed “E-Mobility evolution in India” on 17th December 2020. Representing EV OEMs, EV&EVSE solution providers, the eminent speakers who discussed on the relevant agenda were as follows:

  1. Mr. Naveen Munjal (MD. Hero Electric)
  2. Dr. Deb Mukherji (MD, Omega Seiki Mobility)
  3. Mr. Atul Arya (Head, Energy Systems – Panasonic)
  4. Mr. Saurabh Kumar (Executive Vice Chairman, EESL)
  5. Mr. Jasmeet Khurana (Manager, E-Mobility-WBCSD)

Mr. Naveen Munjal kicked off the panel discussion by putting emphasis on the need to analyse the e-mobility transition with segregated view viz-a-viz the EV segments (2, 3-wheelers, cars, buses, etc.). Though the initial buying price of EVs, today, is higher than the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles (of similar performance), from the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) perspective, EVs have already become more economical than their conventional counterparts. Additionally, the power and life of the electric vehicles are superior compared to the ICE vehicles. Sharing an industry projection, Mr. Munjal said that the price parity between EVs and ICE-vehicles would be achieved by 2023-24. He also commented that one of the major headwinds that the industry is facing is the lack of EV financing. The key reason behind this persisting challenge is the ambiguity involving the determination of resale value of EV at the end of its life. He also expressed that with a conservative approach, the EV market would expand to 2-4 million units (10-20% of ICE vehicle market) in the next 4-5 years. This translates to a market volume of Rs. 125-250 Billion which is going to be largely aided by the B2B segment. In addition to low-speed and high-speed E2W (electric 2-wheeler), Mr. Munjal also introduced city-speed E2W (speed ranging b/w 45-50 kmph) which is expected to constitute the majority chunk of the E2W market. The battery portability convenience, lower initial cost (compared to ICE-2Ws) and better TCO compared to high-speed E2Ws are some of the main reasons that would make the city-speed segment more popular in India. With the shift in consumer preference towards personal mobility post covid-19, E2W segment is set to play a very crucial role over the coming years.

Dr. Deb Mukherji shared his belief that the E2Ws and electric 3-wheelers (E3Ws) would continue to be the fastest growing EV segments for the next 5-10 years at the least. The electrification of 3-wheelers en masse began about 5-6 years back which mostly provided last-mile connectivity. The supply of these vehicles which were led by the low-priced Chinese imports diffused awareness regarding E3Ws in the 3W market. But, on the flipside, Dr. Deb added that due to the low quality of these early E3Ws, it was difficult to avail financing from banks or NBFCs. In the subsequent years, this general perception towards E3Ws by the financiers became a severe impediment for financing even the robust and better quality E3Ws. Despite this prevalent issue, the adoption rate for E3Ws is quite fast. The running cost of these vehicles is as low as 50-60 paise/km as against Rs. 6-8 per km of ICE-3Ws. Apart from the economic benefits offered by E3Ws, the other key enablers for electrification of this segment are technology maturity and government policies. Speaking on the challenges in the E3W space, in the supply side, Dr. Deb mentioned that the cost of batteries and availability of battery and powertrain manufacturers in India are the existing significant issues. The infusion of cutting-edge technology such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence, etc. into the EV architecture and the co-development of both the technology and the vehicle is catalysing the electrification of mobility.

Mr. Saurabh Kumar expressed his thoughts related to e-mobility while putting EV charging infrastructure under the spotlight of the discussion. Sharing his concerns with respect to this domain, he opined that unless there is a policy for identifying land banks for setting up charging stations with clear pricing structure associated with the land, public sector enterprises would have an unfair advantage (over the private players) in projects entailing development of charging stations. This is because most of the land banks in the country belongs to the government. Another key issue highlighted by Mr. Kumar is the lack of uniform electricity supply code regulations for charging infrastructure across all states. Further, he also stressed on the thought that in order to have an effective clean energy transition, the collaboration between the three new-age industries of renewable energy, electric vehicles and BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) is of vital importance.

Mr. Atul Arya, in relation to the incumbent energy storage component of EVs, firstly made the safety of the battery stand out as its most critical feature. He conveyed that even though the battery price highly influences the adoption rate for e-mobility, battery safety is a greater-weighted factor. The design and manufacturing capabilities linked with the batteries should be optimum for them to operate suitably and safely in mobility as well as stationary (second-life) applications. Mr. Arya also noted that the improvement in the design, chemistry and capacity of battery over the years have strongly driven the downward trend in the battery prices. The more advanced solid state, metal-air, hydrogen fuel cell battery technologies, once it reaches the maturity stage (by around 2030), may even begin to replace the lithium-ion batteries. Mr. Arya further asserted that there needs to be high degree of standardization of EV batteries across various OEMs, especially for E2Ws and E3Ws, for battery swapping models to flourish in the future.

Mr. Jasmeet Khurana presented his views on “Unlocking value in the transition to EVs”. He illustrated on the rise in new green deals, in the recent times, with e-mobility being an integral part of it as well as touching on the fact that an increasing share of capital flows in the international markets is being pumped into pushing the EV revolution. Mr. Khurana also mentions that there is a steady shift in the mobility patterns (for ex: growing commercial electric fleets) seen across the country or the globe. He also remarked that there is a lot of value of the transition to EVs residing at the intersection of mobility, real estate and energy. Collaboration is the key to boost the EV adoption and strengthen the business case for efficient electric fleets, effective space management, etc. Mr. Khurana pointed out that there is a huge opportunity, now, to create market rules by which different responsibilities can be assigned to various stakeholders (charging-point operator, fleet operator, discom, etc.) in the e-mobility ecosystem.

Click here to watch the webinar recording.