Electric Vehicles Adoption in India and Challenges Involved | Esmito

UPDATED OCT 01, 2021 - 15 MIN READ

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India is a vast country and has the third largest road network in the world. The vehicles on the Indian roads are major contributors towards the environmental air pollution and the global warming. Further, these internal combustion engine vehicles impose a large amount of cost to the nation due to import of fossil fuels from other countries. This calls for the need of a new transportation system that is environment friendly and that reduces the dependency on fossil fuels. Over the last decade, electric vehicles adoption provide an excellent alternate to the traditional vehicles in the Indian automobile industry.

While that the electric vehicle market has all the potential to fulfil the needs of future automotive industry, there is still a long way for wider adoption of electric vehicles and their fully replacing the conventional vehicles. At present, only the 2 wheelers and 3 wheelers, out of the complete electric vehicle segment, are the only preferences for a typical Indian consumer. While the government is encouraging people for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, various factors such as inadequate charging infrastructure, range anxiety, long charging time, high costs and lack of standardization still restrict the growth of the electric vehicles in the country.

Obstacles in electric vehicles adoption

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India's automotive industry has gained importance globally because of its largest sales volumes of automobiles including both private and commercial vehicles. While India has the fifth largest automotive industry in the world, the electric vehicles represent less than one percent of the overall market. The electric vehicle sales are limited to the range of Light Electric Vehicles (LEV) over the past years. There are a lot of factors which create obstacles in the path of electric vehicles becoming a mainstream mode of transport in India. These factors are as under:

1. Higher cost of electric vehicles

The functioning of an electric vehicle functioning primarily depends on the battery. The material used for this rechargeable battery should possess high energy density for better performance from electric vehicles. The cost of the raw material for the manufacturing of batteries increases with the desirable features required for their application in electric vehicles. Currently, Lithium-ion battery . is widely used in the EV batteries and India has to import it from other countries. In addition, the battery production process involves latest equipment and technology which further add to the cost of electric vehicles.

The ownership cost of electric vehicles in India is very high as compared to conventional vehicles. The price of electric two wheelers and cars are approximately two to three times higher than the same segment available in ICE vehicle range. With the new technologies and wide availably of raw material for battery production, there is significant reduction in the overall prices of electric vehicles than before. However the price difference between EVs and ICE vehicles is still so huge that the electric vehicles remain more expensive than the conventional vehicles. Other factors such as high interest and insurance cost with limited loan provisions are further creating financial challenges for a customer. Therefore, the purchasing cost along with limited financial support are a major concern for the EV buyers and discourages them to move ahead with the decision of buying electric vehicles.

2. Limited charging infrastructure

The rechargeable batteries of electric vehicles need to be charged regularly at charging stations. These charging stations are also known as electric vehicle supply equipments. They supply required electrical power to the discharged battery in an electric vehicle. The purpose of charging station is similar to that of petrol pump in case of ICE vehicles. Therefore a wide network of charging stations is required to facilitate the smooth charging of EV batteries at public places. In contrast, presently India has very less number of charging stations as compared to the number of petrol pumps at different locations.

With the increasing demand of electric vehicles, the demand of electricity will also increase at these charging stations. Therefore limited provisions to meet the increasing grid requirements and the inadequate space for charging stations restricts the expansion of electric vehicles in India.

3. Range Anxiety

The distance covered by a fully charged electric vehicle is less as compared with its ICE counterparts. The maximum driving range offered by latest EV models is still low in comparison to ICE vehicles, so EV driver is often concerned about the range uncertainty and lack of charging stations on the route. Therefore, limited driving range is considered as a significant deterrent in the popularity of electric vehicles.

4. Charging Time

The charging time is dependent on various factors such as the level of charging, the size of the battery pack and the cost of charging. The first factor comprises different level of EV charging. namely Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 charging. The difference between the three levels are the current type, average power delivered, place of charging and the time to charge. The charging time of these systems vary from 10 hours to 30 minutes to fully charge the electric vehicle and the EV consumer has to pay more if they want to charge their vehicle in lesser time.

Second, the size of the battery pack also decides the time to charge the electric vehicle. Bigger size batteries require more time to charge as compared to small size batteries. Lastly, charging rate for different charging points also affects the time for charging the electric vehicle. Fast charging can be achieved with high efficiency charge points. In all the situations the charging time for an electric vehicle is more than the refuelling time of ICE vehicles and it remains a major concern for the adoption of electric vehicles.

5. Consumer perception

The lack of awareness about the benefits and developments in the electric vehicles segment creates a barrier for a faster adoption of electric vehicles in India. The customers are not confident about their decision of buying an electric vehicle because of the issues linked with the higher prices, skilled resale process and inadequate facilities therefore affecting the growth of electric vehicle market in India.

6. Uncertainty in Policy

For the wider acceptance of electric vehicles in the automobile industry, various government policies are formulated to offer support in purchasing of electric vehicles and creating infrastructure for existing EVs. However the trend of electric vehicles is continuously changing over time and to support these changing scenario, the existing polices need to be amended to encourage interested consumers to buy electric vehicles.

7. Lack of trained professionals

The electric vehicle automobile industry is evolving with latest technology and advanced research procedures. Its basic components are completely different form the spark plugs, fuel tank, and engine structure available with the conventional vehicles. So, to build the right maintenance facilities and infrastructure, this developing EV industry requires skilled personnel for troubleshooting the problems and apply necessary measures to resolve the issues. Thus the lack of professionals in all the fields, starting from planning phase to final landing of EVs on roads, is still holding private and foreign investors to enter into this growing industry.

Measures to overcome the EV industry concerns:

The technological advancements in e-mobility industry are expected to reform the complete transportation system. Additionally, it plays a powerful role in achieving the goal of a sustainable environment which is free from greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the Indian Government, industry stakeholders and R&D departments are actively working on resolving the challenges of EV industry and putting efforts to make EVs the first preference for interested customers in India. Some of the important initiatives and technological developments in the EV industry are as follows:

1. Battery Swapping

The battery swapping technology has emerged as an innovative business model in the EV industry. This process allows an easy way of exchanging the discharged batteries of the electric vehicles with the fully charged ones and in this, the EV driver has to pay-per-use for the swapped battery only. Along with the convenience of energizing your electric vehicles within 2-3 minutes, this also helps address major EV adoption concerns such as long charging time, high upfront cost and range anxiety.

Battery swapping technology is also effective in bringing the electric vehicle cost within the buyer’s capacity. This can be achieved by separating the cost of battery from the overall cost of the electric vehicle and the battery ownership has nothing to do with the vehicle owner.

The issue of large space requirements for charging stations can also be eliminated by the adoption of swapping stations as it requires less space for the smooth functioning of battery swapping operations. Additionally, a separate infrastructure for centralized or bulk charging of batteries can be created at a different location. These bulk charging facilities effectively manages the grid load by scheduling the charging process in accordance with the uniform load distribution from the grid. Thus charging the batteries at off- peak periods can result in load balancing during grid fluctuations.

These battery swapping models also play a significant role in extending the battery life, predicting failures and battery end-of-life. This is made feasible as these swapping models combine the merits of both slow and fast charging methods, which is not possible in normal charging methods.

Apart from all the positive impacts offered by battery swapping technology, there is a need to address few concerns such as standardization, initial set up cost for swapping stations, advanced technology for detachable batteries for smooth swap operations and space requirements for bulk charging facilities. A lot of work is already initiated to standardize the battery size, connectors and the communication protocols for smooth swapping operations. EV automobile experts believe that these concerns should be resolved soon with the ongoing research activities and predict that the battery swapping will have a profitable prospects in the near future.

2. Government and State level policies

In India, the state and the centre government are working together to create an e-mobility ecosystem for the faster adoption of electric vehicles. The centre level polices such as FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric vehicles), NEMMP (National Electric Mobility Mission Plan) and Green Tax are significantly impacting the growth in demand of electric vehicles in the country. The main aim of implementing these policies is to make EVs affordable for consumers and encourage consumers to buy electric vehicles thereby, reducing the pollution levels in the country.

To take a lead in the EV industry, the state governments are also playing a significant role in taking new initiatives for the fast promotion of electric vehicles in India. These EV policies at the state level have introduced different schemes which helps in promoting EV sales, faster development of infrastructural facilities, adoption of advanced manufacturing procedures and making EVs more affordable to customers. Some of the State level polices are as under:

Andhra Pradesh’s "Electric Mobility Policy 2018-23"

The policy aim is to support every aspect of electric mobility that contributes to accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles for a sustainable environment. This policy provide benefits in the areas of manufacturing, charging infrastructure, demand creation and research & development activities in the EV sector.

National Capital Territory of Delhi’s "Electric Vehicles Policy"

The policy objective is to establish Delhi as the EV capital of India and accelerate the pace of EV adoption across vehicle segments focusing on incentivizing the purchase and use of electric two-wheelers and support the electrification of public/shared transport and good carriers.

Assam's "Electric Vehicle Policy of Assam 2021"

The policy objective is to improve the air quality by rapid adoption of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV). The policy will also help in creation of robust infrastructure, pool of skilled workforce and conducive environment for industry and research organizations to make Assam the preferred destination for EVs.

Karnataka's "Electric Vehicle & Energy Storage Policy 2017"

The policy supports special initiatives for EV manufacturing, charging infrastructure, research and skill development which are helpful in creating a conducive environment for transition to electric vehicle from ICE engines.

Maharashtra's 'Electric Vehicle Policy 2021"

The primary objective of the policy is to accelerate the adoption of Battery Electric Vehicles in the state so that they contribute to 10% of new vehicle registrations by 2025. The additional policy objective is to achieve 25% electrification of public transport and last-mile delivery vehicles by 2025. In addition, the target is to convert 15 % of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s (MSRTC) existing bus fleet to electric.

Punjab's "Electric Vehicle Policy (PEVP) 2019"

The policy aims to develop a robust EV ecosystem, encourage EV manufacturing units, promote creation of public and private EV charging infrastructure, enable job creation and vocational training programmes in the EV field and foster an environment of innovation by promoting start-ups n EV sector.

Telangana's "Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy"

The policy objectives are to make Telangana state the preferred destination for electric vehicles, ESS and component manufacturing, generate demand for battery storage solutions by driving EV adoption incentives and supply side incentives for battery manufacturing, promote recycle and cascading of batteries. The policy mainly aims to reduce the total cost of mobility by increasing the adoption of electric vehicle in public transportation two and three wheelers four wheelers light commercial vehicles and shared transportation.

Other states such as Kerala, Goa, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Gujrat, Meghalaya, and West Bengal are also facilitating the development of major components of EV ecosystem through their state policies.

3. Advancement in electric vehicles adoption technology

Over the past decade, there is an enormous research and development activity being undertaken in the EV sector. There is a significant advancement especially in the EV battery technology and the charging mechanism, which has accelerated the demand for electric vehicles in India. These technological advancements help in reducing the cost of EVs and making them affordable for consumers. The continuous research in the space of battery technology identifies a lot of alternatives that are allowing electric vehicles to have higher range and performance. India also possesses the strong technical capabilities in the development of induction motors, thermal and cooling management systems and different electronic components, which are important in the EV ecosystem.

The massive work in the EV automobile industry opens a variety of job opportunities for the professionals. Various educational institutes and industries are organizing vocational training programmes to provide knowledge to the interested individuals. In the future, these skilled personnel in electric vehicle markets can help in discovering new innovative business models that can disrupt the global EV industry.

All these initiatives and advancements in the EV sector can push India towards a sustainable and green environment.


  • EV – Electric Vehicle

  • LEV – Light Electric Vehicle

  • ICE – Internal Combustion Engine

  • R&D – Research and Development

  • FAME - Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric vehicles)

  • NEMMP - National Electric Mobility Mission Plan

  • PEVP - Punjab Electric Vehicle Policy

  • MSRTC - Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s

  • BEV - Battery Electric Vehicles