Electric Vehicles expected to "swamp" Indian and Chinese markets
A recent study by Ernst & Young – “Gauging interest for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in select markets” – released in July said the technical progress in electric vehicles has been considerable over the last few years and the pace of progress is set to increase even further.
According to the report, there has been a tangible demand for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles across markets surveyed in the US, Europe, Japan which is going to be followed by developing markets like India and China.
R Chandramouli, chief operating officer of Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles said, ‘Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles has plans to launch a slew of models in Indian as well as overseas markets in the coming year.’
One of the reasons given by global experts is that the Indian auto market is still unsaturated as compared with others and consumers with little experience of car ownership are less likely to be predisposed to buy petrol-powered cars.
Protiviti consulting managing director Akshay Bhalla said, ‘The main problem with the Indian market for electric cars is that the entry cost is more than the operating costs. The lack of infrastructure and charging stations would also be a deterrent in its demand. However, the relative cost of running electric vehicles could improve as the price of oil is currently rising while the price of gas has been falling since 2008.’
Even though analysts pointed to the legacy of economic planning in China as a potential enabler of electric vehicles with Central government directives producing standardisation for battery technologies, electric vehicle development is still in a very early stage in India.
Echoing a similar view, Shashank Srivastava, chief general manager of Marketing at Protiviti, Maruti Suzuki said, ‘This technology is quite expensive and there are a lot of challenges in exploiting this challenge such as the number of charging stations are really less. One particular challenge in exploiting this opportunity is the effect on the local electricity network, both in terms of capacity and infrastructure.
‘On top of increased load levels due to a resurgence of demand in main urban centres, new stresses to the power system will further challenge capacity-constrained networks.'
Cities with large amounts of electric vehicles may quickly see affluent neighbourhoods requiring substation and radial distribution line upgrades to support increased peak load requirements, he added.