Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday made an ardent plea in Parliament for adopting alternative fuel and and said the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) was set to rise by 10 times by the end of the year in the country.
The Minister also cited official figures to show that the EVs had in the recent past shown an uptick in demand. He said that between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, the two–wheeler EVs rose by 422% going up from 28,508 to 1,49,068; three–wheeler vehicles by 75% from 90,216 to 1,57,682; and four–wheeler vehicles up by 230% from 4,695 to 15,860. The number of electric buses also increased from 80 to 1,177 — over 1,200%.
“I am sure and with full confidence I am telling the House that up to the end of this year, the cost of petroleum two–wheelers, petroleum cars and petroleum buses will be the same [as their electric counterparts]. Sale is increasing. I am giving an assurance in this House [and] my prediction is that at the end of this year, the sale of EVs will be increased by 10 times [sic]. The market is now supporting this,” Minister Gadkari said in the Rajya Sabha.
According to data shared by the Minister with the House, the number of EVs registered (3,24,840) in 2021 was 1.7% of petrol and diesel vehicles registered (1,83,12,760) in the same year.
He said it was important for the country to adopt alternative fuels to cut dependence on import of oil and reduce its import bill.
“Presently, the import of crude oil [costs] ₹8 lakh crore. The way the automobiles are now increasing, the import will be to the tune of ₹25 lakh crore. So, this is the time for all of us — in the economic interest, in the interest of our country, and in the interest of ecology and environment — to switch over to alternative fuel like electricity, ethanol, methanol, bio–diesel, bio–CNG, and green hydrogen,” Mr. Gadkari said.
Hydrogen, ‘fuel for the future’
The Minister hailed hydrogen as the “fuel for the future”. Later in the day he also launched a Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) by Toyota. An MoU was also signed by Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd and International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT) for a pilot project to evaluate the vehicle’s performance on Indian roads and climatic conditions.
“We can collect sewage water and by using electrolyzer we can get green hydrogen. We can compress it with generator running on ethanol, which again is a bio–fuel, and we will get the main hydrogen,” the Minister said about the technology used. The vehicle has no tailpipe emissions other than water.
The Minister acknowledged that the cost of battery in India was a big challenge and that the Mining Ministry was planning to acquire some mines. Efforts were also being made to promote battery manufacturing and the government had received a good response for bids placed for it.