Amid the hi-decibel debate over pollution and the odd-even car formula being attempted in the national capital, the Centre is simultaneously working on a plan to rope in states to launch low-emission electric and hybrid vehicles on a pilot basis.
A senior official from the Department of Heavy Industry told The Indian Express that the department is in talks with the Delhi government to launch electric and hybrid vehicles in the city on a pilot basis “for which the whole funding over and above Rs 80 lakh (cost of one CNG bus) will be borne by the Centre”. The Centre has, in tandem, finalised the Indian standards for charging infrastructure and has already handed out two pilot projects for installing solar charging infrastructure to Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Ltd (REIL), while it is going to invite expression of interest for installing grid-based charging infrastructure.
“We have proposed that initially we can have around 100 buses on a closed circuit like Delhi’s ring road. We plan to have a charging point at every 5 km and the buses can charge when they halt at these points. These will be fast charging points which will be able to charge the bus in maximum two minutes for running another 5-6 km. For a bus it takes around 6 hours to fully charge for 80 km range,” the official said. An electric bus would cost around Rs 2 crore and the Centre has agreed to pay “the amount over and above Rs 80 lakh for pilot projects”.
A state transport official said that the government was keen on the project and “open to the idea of electric vehicles.” The official said that a proposal has been sent to the Department of Heavy Industry even as he declined to elaborate on the proposal. The move comes amid the Delhi High Court observing that “it seems we are living in a gas chamber”.
The Centre has also sanctioned 25 hybrid buses to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), and Navi Mumbai each and the work is on to implement it in next 4-5 months, the official said adding that similar pilot projects have been launched in major cities as well.
“Some 20 retro-fitment hybrid vehicles have been sanctioned for 7-8 major cities including Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad. These cities will be given 2 buses each on a pilot basis,” the official added. As such, amid Beijing issuing a first three-day pollution red-alert early this week, there is reportedly a surge in demand for electric cars. According to Reuters, government subsidies and other measures have helped pure-electric car sales soar nearly five-fold to 1,13,810 nationwide in the first 10 months of the year, putting China on track to overtake the US as the largest market for electric cars this year.
The Centre’s initiatives are aimed at substantially cutting down carbon dioxide emissions by about 1.5 per cent by 2020. The department has already chalked out strategy to provide a subsidy of 35 per cent of the price differential between a petrol and an electric vehicle to promote the purchase of hybrid and electric vehicles as a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020, which was launched by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2013. This will help in mitigating the adverse impact of vehicles on the environment while boosting growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities.