India’s electric revolution is in dire need of more power.
Estimates by Grant Thornton Bharat and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry suggest India will need more than 4,00,000 charging stations for the 20 lakh-plus electric vehicles that could be on its roads by 2026. As of December 16, there were only 1,028 public electric vehicle chargers installed throughout the country, energy minister RK Singh wrote in response to a Lok Sabha question.
But there are thousands more planned, installed by governments and private companies.
The government is making space to scale up. In 2019, it ordered all gas stations to install a supply of at least one new-generation fuel, such as compressed natural gas, biofuels, liquefied natural gas and electric vehicle charging points.
In March, the government directed all commercial and institutional buildings – shopping malls, hospitals, hotels, offices, educational institutions and movie theatres – with a parking capacity of more than 100 vehicles to set aside 5% of their parking spaces for EV charging.
The national highways authority is adding a charging station for every 40 km-60 km of national highways. India’s largest government-run oil firm is setting up 10,000 EV chargers in the next three years. Specific states like Karnataka are dedicating budget and resources to set up chargers as well.
Meanwhile, the private sector is stepping up to the challenge, too.
On December 28, Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO of Ola – which recently launched electric scooters –announced that the company is installing more than 4,000 hyperchargers at government-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited pumps, as well as in residential complexes across India throughout 2022. These charging points will be operational by the end of February, and will be free for use until the end of June for thousands of Ola e-scooter buyers, he said.
Tata Power has established a network of 1,000 chargers across the nation. Mumbai-based startup Magenta has begun installing streetlamp-integrated charging stations at railway stations, and is targeting a total of 4,500 chargers across petrol stations, hotels, and residences throughout the country. Zeon Charging and Ather Energy are looking to set up chargers in 500 locations by March.
For now, the distribution of existing chargers is wildly unequal, with the majority in the big cities.
Delhi has 12 times as many electric chargers as the whole of India’s largest state (Rajasthan), according to data shared by Singh. But it makes sense when you consider that electric vehicle sales in Delhi are six times the national average.
The national capital has emerged as India’s electric vehicle capital because of a comprehensive policy that encouraged both demand and ecosystem development. The city-Union Territory gave electric vehicle buyers a subsidy of Rs 10,000 per kilowatt-hour battery capacity, up to a total of Rs 1.5 lakh. However, it did withdraw its subsidy earlier this month, the impact of which remains to be seen.
Future of EVs
Electric vehicle adoption across India has been sluggish. Prices are high, the battery supply chain is dependent on imports, and there is a dearth of charging infrastructure. India’s largest carmaker, Maruti, is not even making electric cars yet. Tesla’s superchargers have been spotted in India, but the cars are still three years later than expected with no launch date in sight.
Transport minister Nitin Gadkari rolled back the impossible target of having only electric vehicles on Indian roads by the end of 2030. Now the aim is to make 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial vehicles, 40% of buses and 80% of two and three-wheelers go electric by the end of the decade.
Given all the speed bumps, the chequered flag for India’s electric dreams is still a few laps away.
This article first appeared on Quartz.