Manu Balachandran is a writer for Forbes India, based in Bengaluru. At Forbes India, Manu writes on automobiles, aviation, pharmaceuticals, banking, infrastructure, economy and long profiles among many others. He also moderates many of Forbes India's CEO and CXO events and hosts Capital Ideas, a podcast on the most riveting success stories from the business world. He has previously worked with Quartz, The Economic Times and Business Standard in Mumbai and New Delhi. Manu has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University and a degree in economics from the Loyola College. When not chasing stories, he is most likely obsessing over Formula 1 (Read: Lewis Hamilton), historical events and people, or planning long weekend drives from Bengaluru
A file photo of an MG Motor pure-electric car launch. Image: Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP
On paper, there perhaps wasn’t much to show, except a sense of firm commitment from the Indian government.
Presenting her last budget before India goes into polls this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Narendra Modi government will continue to help the EV ecosystem by supporting manufacturing and charging infrastructure, without giving details on how it intended to do that.
"Our government will expand and strengthen the e-vehicle ecosystem by supporting manufacturing and charging infrastructure,” she said. “Greater adoption of e-buses for public transport networks will be encouraged through payment security mechanism.”
Surprisingly, amidst all the anticipation, the budget did not include an extension of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme. FAME India, launched in 2015, which has been operational for eight years and is in its second phase now, has a total budgetary support of Rs 10,000 crore and has been crucial to pushing electric vehicle adoption in India.
Under the scheme, incentives are provided to buyers of EVs through an upfront reduction in the purchase price and mainly focuses on supporting the electrification of public and shared transportation. The scheme covers 7,090 buses, 5 lakh e-3 wheelers, 55,000 e-4 wheeler passenger cars, and 10 lakh e-2 wheelers in addition to creating charging infrastructure.
“Timely rollout of new subsidy scheme remains key in accelerating electrification transition,” says Shamsher Dewan, senior vice president & group head—corporate ratings, ICRA Limited. “In addition, the government's efforts to address payment security for electric bus fleet operators will support faster deployment of electric buses.”
In all, of the 24 million vehicles sold in the country, over 1.53 million are EVs, a phenomenal growth considering that just about 130,000 were sold five years ago. In the four-wheeler segment, from a market penetration of 0.05 percent in 2018, selling a little over 1,500 vehicles, the penetration has risen to 2.13 percent, totalling sales of over 80,000 four-wheelers a year.Also read: Budget digest: Unveiling tax shifts in 2024
“While we appreciate the commitment to fortify the e-vehicle sector, we emphasise the importance of addressing certain aspects left untouched,” says Varun Goenka, co-founder & CEO, Chargeup. “We urge a closer examination of challenges such as high GST rates and the lack of affordable financing for critical EV infrastructure, including Battery-as-a-Service facilities and charging stations. Despite our hopes for FAME-III subsidies extending coverage to EV buyers opting for vehicles without batteries, this aspect was not addressed.”