By 2050, there will likely be more electric vehicles than conventional ones in India, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday, expecting advances in technology and gains from the government’s efforts to build up a domestic renewable automotive industry to begin paying off.
Gadkari was speaking at the HT Auto EV Conclave, where he outlined the government’s incentives and urged industry stakeholders to help make India “the world’s largest EV manufacturing and supplying hub”.
“Both battery electric vehicle and fuel-cell vehicle technologies are complimentary to each other and are all set to overtake fossil-run automotive by 2050,” said the minister, before adding: “Indigenous battery tech, localisation of components and huge domestic demand would make EVs the most affordable means of transport in coming years”.
Gadkari said batteries were the most important component of an electric vehicle and constituted at least 50% of the upfront cost, and added this was an area where his ministry was encouraging innovation. “I am pursuing research for its (lithium-ion battery) substitute such as zinc-ion, aluminium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. Low cost raw materials can be made available from scrapping of old vehicles,” he said. “Metals like aluminium, iron and lithium can also be extracted.”
The government last year rolled out a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for various industries including an outlay of over ₹57,00 crore for the automobile and auto-component industry over a period of five years. Around ₹18,000 crore was approved for development of advanced cell chemistry battery storage manufacturing. Gadkari said these incentives further aim to encourage indigenous development of EVs so as to bring down their upfront cost. “In next two to three years, mass production of EVs will have same capital cost as petrol and diesel versions today,” he added.
Apart from battery-powered vehicles, Gadkari also backed various other means of alternative and clean fuel mobility. He spoke of green hydrogen as a zero carbon and sustainable option, especially for heavy and long-haul vehicles such as trucks and buses used for logistical operations. “We are aggressively pursuing research on green hydrogen as a transport fuel,” he said, adding, alternatives such as hydrogen-blended CNG are also being looked at for future use.
He said that efforts were being made to formalise the procedure of retrofitting of existing ICE (internal combustion) engines with CNG, LNG or electric power trains. Though there are various safety and compliance-related challenges, the government plans to provide incentives to develop this procedure, he said.