India Delays Plan for Mass Deployment of Electric Cars

Are the country's plans too ambitious?

India has delayed a plan to deploy 10,000 electric cars in government fleets, reports Bloomberg. It marks an inauspicious start for a push to convert one third of government vehicles to electric power by 2030.

Energy Efficiency Services Ltd., the government-owned corporation responsible for procuring the electric vehicles, said the first 10,000 will be delivered by March 2019. The tender for those 10,000 vehicles was originally issued in September 2017. EESL had wanted to deploy the first 500 cars in November 2017, and the rest by June of this year. 

There are currently 150 cars in the capital of New Delhi, and another 100 scattered around other areas, EESL managing director Saurabh Kumar told Bloomberg. Cars haven’t been deployed in larger numbers due to lack of charging stations, he said. About 200 charging stations for government cars are currently in place, including around 100 in New Delhi. Companies have been slow to respond to tenders for bulk purchases of charging stations.

India’s government wants to replace one third of government vehicles with electric cars by 2030 to combat air pollution, but that won’t happen without expanded charging infrastructure. India faces the additional complication of an unreliable power grid that relies heavily on fossil fuels to generate electricity, which raises the overall carbon emissions of any electric cars charged from it.

Infrastructure issues haven’t stopped Indian officials from dreaming up ambitious electrification plans. Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal has proposed making not just government vehicles but every vehicle on the country’s roads electric by 2030. Companies are also developing electric versions of India’s ubiquitous rickshaws. But without purchase incentives to entice private buyers, most electric vehicles in India will likely be part of government fleets.