How India is Pushing its E-mobility Transition

India’s commitment to generate 500 GW of non-fossil fuel energy by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2070 underscores its dedication to a low carbon emission pathway.

While India’s NDC commitment lacks a specific transport sector target, it has outlined transport mode goals, achieving a 30% Electric Vehicle (EV) share in passenger Light Duty Vehicle (LDV) sales by 2030. Additionally, India aims to increase Inland Water Transport (IWT) to 5%, double the proportion of freight via coastal shipping and inland waterways, raise the railway modal share from 36% to 45% by 2030 through the National Rail Plan (NRP), and endorse the COP26 Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) declaration for new car and van sales by 2040. Indian railways has set itself the target to become net zero carbon by 2030.  Fuel efficiency standards for both LDVs and Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDVs) are also in place but need updating. However, establishing a sectoral GHG reduction target would enhance climate action effectiveness and transparency, fostering a comprehensive strategy for low-carbon transitions in the industry.

India is reshaping its transportation landscape

India’s ambitious push towards electric mobility is reshaping its transportation landscape, driven by a multifaceted approach encompassing governmental directives, technological strides, environmental imperatives, and market dynamics. According to the Vahan dashboard, electric 3-wheelers (3Ws) constitute 6.45% of registered 3Ws, while electric 2-wheelers (2Ws) make up 2.8% of registered 2Ws, translating to 4.42% of total new 2W sales in July 2023. Notably, e-3Ws command 59% of 3W-passenger sales and 47% of 3W-cargo sales for the same month. The electrification trend extends to buses, with e-buses comprising 0.47% of total registered e-buses until July 2023. The recently announced “PM-eBus Sewa” scheme, by the Honourable Prime Minister, aims to introduce 10,000 e-buses through a Public-Private Partnership model, estimated INR 57,613 crore (€576.13 million), with a significant INR 20,000 crore (€200 million) contribution from the Central government. This visionary initiative, designed to sustain bus operations for a decade, underscores the growing national interest in electrifying public transportation.

Driving e-mobility through key initiatives

The National E-Bus Program, led by NITI Aayog and CESL, aims to aggregate demand for 50,000 e-buses, with 20,000 already deployed, resulting in a 29% cost reduction compared to petrol/diesel alternatives. The State EV Accelerator Program has spurred 33 states/UTs to adopt EV policies, fostering investments and job creation. The Shoonya – Zero Pollution delivery campaign, with 140 industry partners, advocates for EV use in urban delivery and ride-hailing, achieving nearly 70 million deliveries and 40 million rides by July 2023. India’s first electric freight platform, e-FAST, led by NITI Aayog and 12 knowledge partners, supports national and international collaborations, driving technology integration and research for cleaner practices in the freight industry. These initiatives collectively propel India towards a sustainable and electrified transportation future.

Creating the right conditions for market forces

For achieving ambitious transport decarbonisation goals financial incentives are crucial. The Indian government, through initiatives like FAME II and ACC PLI (Product Linked Incentive), provides substantial support, focusing on key components, especially battery production. These measures aim to boost domestic manufacturing, enhance global competitiveness, and nurture global champions. The government’s proactive stance anticipates achieving a battery manufacturing capacity of approximately 100GWh within the next 2-3 years. These incentives play a pivotal role in creating the right conditions for market forces, enabling economies of scale and advancing the shift towards e-mobility.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, took a significant step by publishing the Battery Waste Management Rules, aiming to ensure environmentally responsible handling of waste EV batteries. Operating under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), battery producers (including importers) must manage waste batteries, ensuring collection, recycling, and incorporating recovered materials into new batteries.

Fostering synergies in subnational and national policies

While national policies provide the framework, active subnational engagement is essential for successful implementation. State-level initiatives should complement national efforts to ensure a sustainable transformation. The increasing adoption of state-level electric vehicle (EV) policies signifies a growing dedication to EV integration. A notable instance is the announcement made by the Chief Minister of Goa at the G20 Energy Transitions Ministerial Meeting, aiming for a 30% retrofitting target for permit holders with multiple vehicles by June 2024 including rental cars and bikes. Additionally, Goa’s pledge for all new tourist vehicles to be electric by 2024 illustrates a significant step towards e-mobility proliferation.

The side-events held at the margins of G20 Energy Transitions Ministerial Meeting and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings held in July 2023 at Goa, saw the presence of several national and international representative from governments, regulatory bodies, utility companies, auto-manufacturers, service providers and other relevant organisations working in the mobility ecosystem. Discussions covered crucial themes on energy transition and transforming carbon-intensive transportation to cleaner, sustainable forms. Read the event recap here: Accelerating the energy transition in Asia’s transport through sustainable and equitable e-mobility.

India as influencer for transport decarbonisation

Given India’s influential role in advocating for e-mobility and holding the G20 presidency in 2023, a crucial question arises: Can India use its influence to prioritise transport decarbonisation among G20 nations? This becomes especially vital as other emerging economies, starting with Brazil in 2024 and South Africa in 2025, assume the presidency. In summary, India’s dedication to electric mobility is guiding it towards a sustainable transportation future. Through strategic initiatives, financial incentives, a commitment to circular economy principles and strong international cooperation, the nation is moving towards the forefront, on a path towards a cleaner and greener tomorrow.

NDC Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA) is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. It supports China, India, and Viet Nam as well as regional and global decarbonisation strategies to increase the ambition around low-carbon transport.  

10 Principles for Sustainable Urban Transport