Electric vehicles offer a spectre of hope amid escalating fuel price, but they are yet to make waves in the automobile sector in Kerala. Buyers of electric vehicles form a miniscule minority among car users in the State.
While cars running on petroleum fuel are being launched frequently to cater to the demand, the scene on the electric vehicle segment is disappointing due to the poor patronage from vehicle users. On an average, only four cars per month were sold in Kerala last year by the Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Private Limited, the only company selling electric vehicles in the State. This is in contrast to the growth story of the companies selling vehicles running on fossil fuel in Kerala.
The number of Maruti vehicles sold in Kerala registered a 13 per cent growth during the nine-month period ending December last year. On an average, more than 8,000 Maruti cars were sold every month in the State. There are several other manufacturers offering a variety of automobiles and most of them have registered remarkable growth.
While several individuals buy the electric vehicle as an additional car, certain campuses and institutions offer patronage as a means to promote clean technologies. Government departments, which have a stake in preservation of environment, have not bothered to look at the electric vehicle alternative for transport.
The scene could change with the new vehicle from the Mahindra Reva stable, e2O, set to be launched across the country shortly. Though no announcement on the launch of the new vehicle has been made in Kerala, its launch is expected to set the ball rolling for a renewed EV market in the State. Several other manufactures are also waiting in the wings to launch hybrid varieties that could almost match the cars running on petrol and diesel.
The new vehicle will make use of the lithium ion batteries, providing improved efficiency in charging and retaining the charge for longer hours. The car will have a range of 100 km per charge. The vehicle will enable users to charge the vehicle through any 5 ampere plug point at home or at the workplace. The driving cost of the vehicle would be Rs.0.44 per km in contrast to over Rs.4 for the car running on petrol, according to company sources.
Sources in the industry told The Hindu that the government is expected to relax road tax for the electric vehicle on account of the savings on import of gasoline as well as zero emission advantage. A few states have already taken steps in that direction.