Industry leaders share optimism about India's EV push at ISB

By Team Marcomm Oct 05, 2023

Stakeholders from the electric vehicle (EV) and ancillary industries converged at the Hyderabad campus of the Indian School of Business (ISB) to discuss the ongoing transformation in India's transportation landscape.

The discussions were part of the ‘VoltAge’, an EV conclave held by WION in partnership with ISB and the Government of Telangana. Sharing that a lot of myths are associated with EVs, Santosh Iyer, MD and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, said that his company has started its push by educating customers about facts to remove hesitancy.

He underlined a relative lack of charging infrastructure and further spoke of ignorance in comparing EVs with mobile phones in terms of how they would last over a longer period. “Unlike mobile phones, electric vehicles will not discharge even if they are not used for months... Customers question us about residual value (or resale) after 10 years, and we inform them about the battery guarantees and other measures we are taking,” Santosh Iyer said, stressing that there are positive signs already.

Policy Viewpoint

From the policy perspective, he said that even though the country has a good EV policy, there needs to be consistency in the years to come. 

Echoing these sentiments, Jyoti Malhotra, MD of Volvo Car India, said, “If we want EVs to be adopted, certainty in government policies is a must.” Mentioning exemptions for GST and road tax, and other such benefits provided by state governments, he said the governments have contributed many positives, but there is a need to make these policies certain and well-defined.

On Range Anxiety

The anxiety of how long the car will last before it needs a recharge, was addressed too.

“Even though there is the thrill of driving an EV with instant torque, a quiet cabin, sustainability, and the novelty attached to the product, customers still have range anxiety, a lack of proper information, and questions about resale value,” said Aditya Jairaj, Deputy MD of Stellantis India that owns brands such as Renault and Citroen. He was speaking during a session on ‘Mass Appeal: Electric Mobility for All’, listing reasons why EVs are not gaining traction at a large scale yet.

During a fireside chat, Vijaya Sunder M, Assistant Professor (Practice) and Academic Director at the Centre for Business Innovation at ISB, questioned Virendra Goyal, Head of Business Development for EV Charging at Tata Power, about the state of infrastructure in the country, particularly concerning home charging.

Goyal stressed that the infrastructure needs to be addressed at several levels – from speaking to housing societies to having the optimum supply of power, to managing apprehensions and potential risks. “Our teams are building awareness by even going to housing society meetings to address misgivings,” he said.

On two-wheelers, though, there was much more optimism. Niraj Rajmohan, Co-Founder & CTO of Ultraviolette Automotive, a Bengaluru-based EV startup company, said that the demand for their e-motorbikes has come from over 100 countries in the last two years since they unveiled their first vehicles. “We see organic demand in terms of registrations on our website. Being able to deliver vehicles to all those countries is a difficult task, but at least in key geographies – North America, Europe, and certain South Asian countries – we are gearing up to start deliveries there.”

Inviting suggestions for the revamped version of the Telangana EV policy, which is in the draft stage, Gopalakrishnan VC, Director of Automotive and EV at the Government of Telangana, said that they will hopefully have green corridors or areas where only EVs are allowed. “We are waiting for the right time for internal discussion, and most likely by February next year, we will have an adoption framework.”

Amit Kaushik, Country Head, Urban Science India and Aashutosh Sinha Principal, Nomura Research Institute Innovation also participated in the discussions.

Molly Gambhir, Senior Anchor, WION and Ashish Jha, Editor — Mobility, WION moderated the proceedings.