On a day when the government reduced GST (Goods and Services Tax) on electric vehicles, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog Saturday said that Dholera SIR (Special Investment Region) in Gujarat should “become the first green city of the world’ where either Bharat Stage 6 (BS6) certified vehicles or electric vehicles should ply.
“Dholera should become the first green city of the world and set an example of a city where there will be no combustion engine vehicles,” said Kant while addressing a conference on e-mobility in Ahmedabad organised by CII. He said Dholera which is in the process of building the basic infrastructure for a “greenfield city” should permit either BS6 vehicles or green vehicles to ply within the SIR that is coming up on 920 square kilometers expanse.
“At Dholera, EV (Electric Vehicles) charging stations are being planned at every kilometer.. My view is Dholera should allow only electric vehicles to be registered. Register EVs with zero registration fee and zero road tax, give green number plates for the registration of EVs and deploy a vast network of charging infrastructure supporting fast charging and slow charging at homes. It should set up giga factories for domestic manufacturing of battery cells and packs for which we are pushing from the Government of India,” said Kant while addressing the gathering through a video conference.
He said Dholera SIR was “the biggest planned effort by the Centre and state government to create top-class quality infrastructure.”
The CEO said that the government was focussing on electrification of two-wheelers, three-wheelers and buses initially. “Two and three-wheelers contribute almost 80 per cent to India’s domestic automobile sales. It is important to provide impetus to the electrification of these two segments to provide size and scale to India’s e-mobility efforts. Therefore our focus must be first on two and three-wheelers,” Kant said buses were the third segment that will be at the centre of government’s push for electrification.
He said the government was looking to attract manufacturers to places like Dholera SIR. “Batteries account for almost 40 per cent of total purchase cost of EVs today. Domestic battery manufacturing is a massive market opportunity for India to rapidly enable the transition to electric vehicles,” he said India had the opportunity to manufacture battery cells and packs while restricting the imports to raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel which account 19 per cent of the value.
He said that the existing infrastructure of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) is being fully utilised to create charging infrastructure for e-vehicles in urban areas and on highways. “Forecast indicate that electric vehicles can reach price parity with combustion engine vehicles by 2024,” he remarked.
Kant told the gathering that he could not be present in Ahmedabad for the event due to an extended session of the Lok Sabha and crucial GST council meeting which cut the GST rates on electric vehicles to five per cent from 12 per cent and that for electric vehicle chargers to 5 per cent from the 18 per cent. The council also approved GST exemption for hiring electric buses by local authorities.