Are electric vehicles the answer for resilient and smart communities?

NIUA, at the request of the ADB South Asia Department (SARD) presented the history, present and future possibilities of electric vehicles (EV) in India. While the EV technology and adoption has had mixed results in the past, the current indicators and government policies to re-incentivize EV manufacturing in the country point to a brighter future. Key amongst these policies is the FAME (Faster Manufacturing and Adoption of EV vehicles) program that targets $120 million investments in the next two years and the NEMMP (National Electric Mobility Plan) that aims to deploy 5-7 million vehicles by 2020. Given that India is the second biggest market for two wheelers (80 million in 2010) and about 1.6 million buses ply in Indian cities, the migration to EV could bring huge environmental benefits. Siddharth Pandit from NIUA also presented a business model case for EV auto-rickshaws and some case studies of local innovations, especially Mahindra E20 and the Athena Energy two-wheeler. The barriers were also discussed, mainly the overdependence on import of Lithium Ion batteries, contradictory state action (the Delhi ban on EV three wheelers) and no formal incentives for recycling of batteries. The hope is that the new programs and policies will address these barriers going forward. ADB’s South Asia Knowledge Hub can facilitate this effort by building knowledge around economic and regulatory strategies to overcome these barriers in other countries.

One of the more interesting cases for India is ADB’s own program of EV vehicles adoption in the city of Lumbini, a heritage site in Nepal. India is embarking on its own heritage mission (HRIDAY) and the Lumbini case study can provide a successful model for adoption in at least one of the HRIDAY cities to merge the objectives of heritage conservation, clean energy and smart cities.