Govt. cautioned against rushing into electric vehicles

‘Ill-timed decision can hit industry’

A day after industry bodies SIAM and CII called for a practical approach in formulating electric vehicle-related policies, two-wheeler makers Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor on Monday said “unrealistic” and “ill-timed” decisions will derail auto manufacturing in the country.

The reactions come amid reports that the government plans to ban sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) three-wheelers by 2023 along with sales of less than 150 cc two-wheelers by 2025.

“I have three execution related concerns…First that it may be impractical to target such a scale when none of the stakeholders currently possess any meaningful experience with any of the pieces of the EV puzzle,” said Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto. He added that it is “ill-timed” to target a date so close to BS-VI implementation.

“And finally, to target two and three-wheelers but not cars etc. makes it an incomplete initiative,” he said.

Middle path

Mr. Bajaj suggested that an appropriate middle path may be put in place in the first phase to target such a changeover through corporate average fuel efficiency norms and electric vehicles for all vehicle categories from a particular date such as 2023 or 2025 starting with most-polluted cities.

Venu Srinivasan, chairman at TVS Motor Company, pointed out that automakers everywhere were supportive of the overall goal of introducing electric vehicles (EV) and as a result, have been doing serious development work to ensure a mass market EV products, while adding that supporting infrastructure for charging also needs to be as robust as conventional fuel options.

“The auto industry globally is still a long way away from all of this, as is India.

“To force an unrealistic deadline for mass adoption of electric two and three-wheelers will not just create consumer discontent, it risks derailing auto manufacturing in India that supports four million jobs,” he cautioned.

On Sunday, SIAM president Rajan Wadhera warned that “such unrealistic expectations and policies would not only adversely affect the world number one two/three-wheeler industry, but may not help in making EVs acceptable to the customer and the market.”

“…the [government’s EV] ambition needs to be tempered with a practical approach and what is possible without needlessly disrupting the automotive industry,” Mr. Wadhera, who is also president of automotive sector at M&M said.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), had also come out in support of the auto sector, stating that there is a need for wider consultations with the stakeholders before the target and the time line for electric vehicles are set.

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