All electric two wheelers by 2025- 5 Practical hurdles!

Central government of India is planning to ban petrol powered under 150cc two wheelers by 2025 and push for an all electric two wheeler ecosystem. Govt has asked high level migration plan (from Petrol to Electric) from major two wheeler makers like Bajaj, TVS etc. [Source]. Naturally Bajaj, TVS etc aren't fully prepared for this and have called the move unnecessary and impractical [Read here ].
Representative image: Nissan Leaf EV powering a cricket match.

I think the intentions of the government is good. But I agree with the practicality concern of this move raised by TVS and Bajaj. Before we can go all electric, there're some major challenges to be addressed- these can't be done by two wheeler manufacturers or public-only Government agencies can take concrete steps to address these. In this post I am presenting 5 major challenges in migration towards electric vehicles. Please read and share your thoughts.

1. Electricity is not entirely green or pollution free
The whole assumption that electric vehicles don't cause pollution is not true. Two third of India's electricity comes from non renewable sources- coal, petroleum etc. Thus the electricity used in electric vehicle has already caused pollution when electricity is generated. Just that instead of causing pollution inside the city where vehicle is used, pollution happens in a far away thermal power plant.
Image source: thedoghousediaries.com

Unless we generate more electricity from renewable sources like wind, water, solar to a level that say only a small portion of electricity is from coal/petroleum, the push for EV won't result in real benefits.

2. What is the policy for disposing used Lithium Ion batteries?
Today there's no defined policy to deal with waste management of Lithium Ion batteries used in Mobile phones. These are smaller ones and a mobile phone ends up in scrapyard after at around 5+ years if not sooner. Once large volume of electric vehicles hit the road, their bigger, heavier batteries will need replacement every 4-5 years- during which what to do with old batteries? Who should own the risk and cost of its waste management? There's no policy for this. Without a policy and process, in a few decades we'll be dealing with massive waste management problem of lithium ion batteries.

3. Standardization is still not in place
Every electric vehicle maker seem to have their own shape, size, specifications w.r.t battery, charging infrastructure. Without some standard between the manufacturers, battery/charging infra of one EV maker won't fit into that of another- customer will have to buy different things each time and can't reuse (like how we had each phone manufacturer their own chargers earlier). In order to grow as an industry, standardization is important.

4. What is the motive for commercial enterprises to provide charging infra?
Electricity used by commercial enterprises are billed several times more than domestic consumption. So shopping complexes, office buildings and other public places may not have any motive to provide charging infra for electric vehicles in their premises. Providing one or two EV charging station for publicity/PR purpose is different from providing same to 100s of vehicles. If commercial businesses hesitate to provide charging access then who should own this problem- vehicle manufacturers? (like Ather is planning Ather Grid) or will this be a 3rd party agency? (like petrol station, a dedicated facility for EV charging/battery exchange for a fee)

5. Total Cost of Ownership for EV is still very high
As much as people might be keen to buy an EV, the total cost of ownership is still very high today
-Initial purchase price way higher than petrol vehicles
-Battery that needs replacement every 4-5 years cost a lot (almost 30% of vehicle cost)
-Unlike petrol vehicle where main expense is fuel, which is a function of usage, EV will suffer depreciation cost, battery deterioration and any company induced subscription charges even when vehicle is not used for months. Read: Real economics of Ather 450 Electric scooter

Hopefully the cost comes down with greater adaption and increase in volume. But it will remain an entry barrier. For example, if 150 cc petrol motorbike costs 1 lakh rupees and an electric scooter costs 1.5 lakhs, many would still go for petrol vehicle till they are fully convinced on the cost and convenience and other aspects of electric vehicles. Now this will defeat the main purpose- if that person was allowed to buy 100 cc petrol motorbike it would have given 80 kmpl mileage, 150 cc bike will give 50 kmpl- so more petrol is wasted.

Similar: 22 FAQs on Ather Energy * Mahindra e2O review * Simple thing Mahindra can do to boost sale of e2O

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