Mumbai: Battery-driven taxis could soon be seen on city streets, with the State government pushing for the use of electric cars by offering incentives to app-based taxi operators like Ola and Uber.
The Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 has been amended to include more incentives to battery-operated vehicles with engine capacity of 980cc. The changes were approved in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on November 27. An existing resolution dated May 8, 2012 will also be amended.
Section 2(u) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1989, has already recognised a battery-operated vehicle as a vehicle adapted for use on roads and powered exclusively by an electric motor whose traction energy is supplied exclusively by traction battery installed in the vehicle. The government has indicated that it is keen to introduce various types of battery-operated vehicles on the roads. The Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2017, already has provisions and fees for regular vehicles with 980cc and 1,400cc engines. “We want to incentivise this technology further and ensure Ola and Uber drive this initiative,” a State Transport Department officer said.
The push towards battery-operated vehicles is supported by the Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), which was appointed by the government to study the feasibility of a battery-driven taxi service.
However, the ARAI also said in its report that only automaker Mahindra & Mahindra manufactures battery-driven cars with 1,598cc and 1,461cc engines. The report says, “There is no comparison between the strength of petrol-operated and a battery-operated engines. However, since battery-operated vehicles are environment-friendly, necessary amendments must be made to increase their use. Existing petrol and diesel vehicles can be retro-fitted with ease.”
The Shiv Sena has been voicing support for battery-operated vehicles. Earlier this month, electric buses were commissioned into the BEST fleet at the hands of Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray. He said, “These buses are fully electric, zero noise, zero harmful emissions and automatic transmission. As I inaugurated it, I took full ownership of the dream to go electric, in case something goes wrong. If it succeeds, the credit would go to politicians in the BMC, the BEST and officers who believed in it, and who were possibly pushed to a point of frustration by me over the arrival of the electric buses.”