Nagpur became India's first city with mass electric mobility system with the launch of a multi-modal electric vehicle project at the Nagpur Airport Complex, making Maharashtra the first state to provide various incentives to e-taxis as well.
Union minister of road transport and highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra chief minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis launched the unique project that brings together e-buses, e-cabs, e-rickshaws and e-autos on a single platform.
The fleet of 200 vehicles consists of 100 of Mahindra's new e20 Plus vehicles, besides those from other manufacturers like Tata Motors, Kinetic and TVS. The Ola App will enable commuters in Nagpur to book them.
''Electric mass mobility ecosystem in Nagpur will bring about a transformational change in the automotive and transportation landscape in the country,'' Gadkari said after the launch that also marked the third anniversary of the Narendra Modi government at the centre.
Gadkari said that it was his government's vision to make India a 100 per cent e-vehicle nation. He said his ministry was prepared to facilitate manufacturers and other companies to take the Nagpur model to other parts of the country. E- vehicles need to be promoted in order to cut down the huge crude oil bill, reduce pollution and create cost effectiveness in transportation, he said.
To begin with, the emphasis would be on commercial vehicles and then on others, he added.
Gadkari said the growing demand, coupled with R&D would gradually help to bring down the operational costs, especially the battery cost. Once the cost of batteries comes down, e-vehicles will compete with diesel and petrol vehicles and finally phase them out, hre added.
The government, he said, has big plans to develop low-cost lithium-ion batteries in India and efforts are on to remodel the battery made by Indian Space Research Organisation to make it fit for use in electric vehicles.
Car market leader Maruti Suzuki has also evinced interest in developing lithium ion batteries, he added.
The government is aggressively trying to push sales and production of electric vehicles in the country through schemes such as FAME India, which have caught the fancy of Chinese automobile manufacturers such as BYD and SAIC that are already investing heavily in electric technology.
A 12 per cent levy on pure electric vehicles (EVs) has been proposed under the goods and services tax regime, a move that reflects the government's intention to push its adoption.
Chief minister Fadnavis flagged off taxi aggregator Ola's electronic vehicle (EV) services in the city. A battery charging station for the vehicles was also inaugurated at the airport where the launch function was held.
Nagpur, which is home to both Gadkari and Fadnavis, will be the first in country to have such a service.
Fadnavis announced that the state government will soon come up with measures to promote setting up of charging stations. This is expected to be a major job provider especially to the technically educated youth.
"Soon there would be a rush to start electronic vehicle (EVs) charging stations as it used to be for petrol pumps. The state will announce a policy spelling out details like rules, permissions, land requirements and other aspects for starting a charging point," said the chief minister.
The state has done away with VAT and road tax for all EVs, Fadnavis added.
To begin with, Ola will be having four charging centres in the city. Its services will include taxis, auto-rickshaws and a couple of buses. Car-maker Mahindra and Mahindra is the major ally of Ola and is supplying 200 taxis. The company also launched its e-autorickshaws on the occasion.
Kinetic Green has provided 100 e-rickshaws to Ola. A few petrol-run auto rickshaws, re-engineered into battery-run by a local groups led by Congress ex-MLA Anees Ahmed, too were supplied. The buses have been provided by Tata Motors and Gold Stone Infratech.
"We plan to invest $20 billion in this sector by 2020 bringing 1.5 crore EVs on the road by that time," said Ola co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal.
Gadkari said EVs are poised to be the future mode of transport. It will not only save foreign exchange spent on importing crude oil but also provide a means of employment for those like rickshaw-pullers.
"Following a recent visit to London I was impressed by the system operated by Transport of London (the agency which manages public transport). We plan to emulate the model in India by roping in the agency as a consultant," said Gadkari.