Electric vehicles could be a better alternative to fuel-based automobiles to mitigate air pollution, but the government’s target to switch to e-vehicles in next 10 years is hard to achieve, TERI said, pointing out that consumers would need time to accept the change.

By 2030, the government aims to make India a 100-per cent electric-vehicle nation.

It has proposed that two-wheelers below the engine capacity of 150cc sold in the country after March 31, 2025, and three-wheelers sold after March 31, 2023, should be EVs.

But TERI chief Ajay Mathur told PTI that key factors like consumer acceptability and desirability need to be addressed before making e-vehicles a reality in India.

“This is a consumer-based market so consumer acceptability and desirability are key factors. We are not yet there. We need to address the obstacles in transiting to e-vehicles through incentives against scrapping of old vehicles, reducing GST, business models,” he said.

“I don’t know what is the basis of this target of 2023-25. The markets have to build the consumer desirability and acceptability first. I don’t see transition happening this fast.”

However, Mathur praised the concept of electricity-based vehicles.

Beside not causing urban pollution, EVs’ running cost is cheaper when compared to diesel or petrol-based vehicles, he said. “You no longer have a vehicle spewing smoke on you.”

He also raised the issue of popularity of e-vehicles in India, as unlike internationally, people here are not familiar with the idea.

“Internationally, there are e-cars which can travel 200 km but here people have not seen a comfortable e-vehicle,” the TERI director-general said.

He insisted that the shift towards e-vehicles should be initiated through introduction of electric buses and taxis.

“There are commercial vehicles like buses and taxis which I think should be the first target for e-vehicles as they are the largest creators of pollution and producers of CO2.

He elaborated on the issues surrounding e-vehicles, including expensive purchase rate, availability of charging stations, familiarity and comfort of people in using it.

“About a year ago, around eight cities had brought tender for e-buses. Some cities asked for an outright purchase of a bus, while some opted for buses being given to them on lease on km basis. In three cities, the lease rate was less than Rs 60 per kilometre but the outright purchase rate is much more expensive,” he said.

Another issue is range, he added.

“How far can the EV go on one charge. My fear is that my vehicle will run out of charge and I won’t have a charging station near me. If you look at China, all new buses and two-wheelers are electric. People are familiar there. People are not familiar in India,” he stressed.

He suggested the government first introduce public e-charging infrastructure and marketing infrastructure for an alternate business model to provide batteries essential for a shift to EVs.