Express News Service
CHENNAI: You’re probably upset about your fuel bill. But electric vehicle (EV) makers are glad. You’re now more likely to consider their products. Moreover, and since the government’s on their side, their goods are now more affordable than ever.
With petrol prices above Rs 100, a traditional vehicle would leave you poorer by about Rs 3 a km, if it gives you a mileage of 50 km per litre, and considering maintenance costs. But the per-km cost of using an EV is just 50 paise, says BC Datta, vice president, corporate affairs, OLA Electric Mobility. Datta’s company is working to roll out EVs from its Bargur plant in Krishnagiri district.
“Value for money is an important factor when switching to electric vehicles. With e-vehicles, customers can break within 18-24 months,” says Nilay Chandra, director, marketing and charging infrastructure, Ather Energy.
Clocking 8,000-10,000 km a year on an EV would cost Rs 16,000-17,000 lesser than if you used a regular 125 cc scooter, considering the present fuel prices, he points out. Besides, EVs have a higher resale value than petrol or diesel vehicles four-to-five years down the line, Chandra adds.
One of the main drawbacks of EVs is the price tag they bear. But the Central and State governments have stepped in to bring them within reach. The Centre offers a subsidy of 40 per cent on electric two-wheelers, while Tamil Nadu offers EVs exemption from road tax till December 30, 2022, and waiver of registration charges and SGST. The State also waives e-permit and registration charges for electric autos and taxis, as per the e-vehicle policy unveiled in 2019.
It’s not, however, all smooth sailing once you buy an EV. You’ll have to keep charging it, which requires infrastructure. Datta says that over the next two years, Ola plans to set up one lakh charging stations across India. “We will start next month, and focus on the major cities before moving to tier-1 and tier-2 cities. “It’s an ambitious initiative to help consumers charge wherever they are. We have been talking to petroleum companies. Many petrol bunks will have charging stations,” he explains.
Chandra, meanwhile, highlights that most of the charging will be done at home. “People who use their vehicles to go to work would use them for a maximum of 20-30 km. They would be ready if they are charged at home at night,” he says, adding that Ather plans to set up 500 more charging stations across India.
The sale of electric vehicles has been picking up after the lockdown was imposed. Chandra says the volume of their sales in the last 15 days is equal to what they had in the entire month of February. Chennai accounted for 20 per cent of Ather’s EV sales in the last six months, he adds.
While the cost of EVs continues to be a deterrent, Chandra points out that government policies have narrowed the price difference between EVs and regular vehicles from Rs 50,000-60,000 to Rs 25,000. As the volumes of sales increases, the cost will reduce further, he asserts.