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As Flipkart aims to turn to EVs, a look at the evolving EV policy, and industry pushback

Flipkart aims to replace around 40% of its delivery fleet into electric by March 2020, according to company statement. At present, Flipkart has deployed 8 e-Vans in Hyderabad, 10 e-Vans in New Delhi, and 30 e-bikes in Bengaluru. Amitesh Jha, senior VP, Ekart and Marketplace told PTI that the deployment of these electric vehicles depended on factors like the charging capacity of those vehicles, the distance they can travel and the network that the firm had. However, the firm is “very confident” about the 40% number. MediaNama has reached out to Flipkart for details and we will update this when we hear from them.

This announcement comes a day after Delhi government’s transport minister Kailash Gahlot announced the ‘Deliver Electric Delhi’ project under which it plans to use up to 1,000 EVs in the city for delivering online orders over the next 12 months. The minister was speaking at the inauguration of Urban Mobility Lab workshop here in Delhi. More than 30 companies were present  at the event including Flipkart, Amazon, Bigbasket, Grofers, Uber Eats, Zomato, Hero Electric, Tata Motors and Blue Dart among others.

Two-wheeler manufacturers lash out at Niti Aayog’s EV proposal

It’s worth noting that only a few days before these developments, India’s two wheel vehicle manufacturers lashed out at Niti Aayog’s proposal that all scooters and motorbikes with an engine capacity of more than 150cc must run on electric power from 2025. The think tank also proposed to electrify all three-wheelers by 2023. TVS Motors argued that the transition from conventional to electric two-wheelers is “not like Aadhaar, not software and print cards” since it will require migration to a completely new supply chain. Meanwhile, Hero MotoCorp said that Niti Aayog’s approach to electrification of two wheelers was “deeply concerning” and could potentially “jeopardise the industry”. Bajaj Auto said that such a transition was “completely uncalled for”.

Last week, the government think tank had proposed that only electric vehicles (EV) should be sold after 2030, according to the Economic Times. The government think tank has moved a Cabinet note seeking to assign responsibility for different ministers, and for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to prepare a framework to phase out the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030. NITI Aayog has also proposed that:

  • MoRTH should be tasked with issuing norms for cab aggregators to replace all fuel run vehicles with electric vehicles by 2030
  • Ministry of Heavy Industries should work on replacement of fuel powered vehicles of union ministries, agencies and the public sector with EVs by 2030
  • Suggested that MoRTH pilot an e-highways program with an overhead electricity network to enable plying of electric trucks and buses on select national highways
  • The Cabinet note comes just ahead of the NITI Aayog’s scheduled meeting companies on June 21 following their discontent with the proposed plan to accelerate the timeline for two and three wheeler vehicles to run on batteries

Registration fees for EVs to go

The government has stepped in with proposed amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 that would do away with registration fees for battery operated or electric vehicles (EVs). The ministry said it issued a draft notification to amend Rule 81 of CMVR to allow this, and is seeking comments and suggestions from stakeholders.

And there’s FAME: As of now, the only government scheme for electric vehicles is FAME (Faster Adoption of Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles), which is currently in its second phase. Interestingly FAME-II, when it was last updated in March 2019, did not provide incentives to private car buyers, unlike FAME-I, which gave buyers a direct subsidy of Rs 1.38 lakh. While FAME-II provides for an even higher subsidy of Rs 1.5 lakh, it is limited only to those buyers who want to put their electric car to commercial use. This has led to confusion for auto makers like Hyundai, which feel that there was not enough clarity in the government’s vision for electric vehicles.

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