2021-01-18
A decade in e-Mobility

A decade in e-Mobility

As we enter the new decade, I anticipate it will be remembered as the decade in which e-mobility became mainstream. Many industry veterans may question this statement and claim that e-mobility is still a niche and that we need at least two-to-three decades more for e-mobility to challenge the era of ICE vehicles. Only time will tell who is right.

As I write this welcome note, I can see that within the next three years consumers are going to have lot more choices in e-mobility, not just in terms of road transport but also for other modes of travel including electric planes and boats.

The last decade saw the amazing rise of smartphones in India. At the beginning of 2010, less than five percent of Indian consumers used smartphones and within this decade the smartphone adoption has seen more than 10X growth. No one made a strategy for increasing the adoption of smartphones in India, in fact, many industry leaders questioned if Indian consumers needed smartphones or high-speed internet. But the consumers decided that with the falling data rates and additional features available with smartphones, they do provide value for money and made the switch. I am anticipating a similar transition to take place in the next five-to-ten years in the automotive sector in India. With the decreasing cost and improved performance of batteries, EVs are expected to reach cost parity with ICE vehicles by 2023. Also, with the falling renewable energy prices, consumers can also benefit from cleaner energy sources and cheaper operating costs. This time, even the government is focusing on supporting this transition as there are many social benefits that India can gain from it, such as lesser fiscal burden by reduced oil imports, and improved air quality by addressing the tailpipe emissions from ICE vehicles.

In the past couple of years, we have seen the emergence of aggregators who are switching to electric cars due to the sheer economics of EVs. The only factors that have limited their pace of growth were the availability of EVs that meet their requirements, limited charging infrastructure, and financing options. This is all changing fast, in 2020, we are anticipating more than 10 new EVs to be introduced with features that can compete with the popular ICE vehicles. Department of Heavy Industries has allocated money for deploying over 1000 fast chargers and various states are looping to adopt 5000+ e-buses in the next 12-18 months under FAME-II.

The only question remaining is if Indian OEMs and industry can adapt fast enough to maintain leadership in the automotive market. To some extent, Indian OEMs have got themselves trapped in looking for cheaper EV, rather than focusing on bringing an EV that most consumers are waiting for. The competition is growing fast and we have already witnessed aggressive announcements and plans from international companies such as Hyundai and MG shaking the market. For instance, MG claims to have received more registrations for their ZS EV in the past month alone, than the sales of its other EVs during 2019. Tata Motors is stepping up with the introduction of Nexon EV and we are looking forward to doing a test drive soon.

NITI Aayog is anticipating the launch of the Giga factory mission with the approval of the cabinet, anticipated to come sometime this month. This could address the last hurdle for the rapid growth of EVs in India by setting up 50GWh annual cell manufacturing capacity in the country by 2023. This decade, therefore, marks an opportunity for the Indian auto industry to benefit from the imminent transition. With an entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of consumer needs, I am sure that we are poised to witness an amazing journey.