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Developing a Roadmap for Electric Vehicle Tech in India

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) organised a brainstorming session to discuss the research and development needs of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country and deliberate on an EV roadmap. The session also explored ways to meet the government’s target of having electric mobility be 30% of the vehicle population by 2030.

Around 200 leading experts and stakeholders from ministries, research labs, academia, and the industry attended the day-long session. They discussed the need to acquire capability in major EV subsystems like batteries, motors, and power electronics. DST Senior Advisor, Akhilesh Gupta, stated that India aims to be carbon neutral by 2070. This means several sectors in the economy need to be de-carbonised. Transportation is one of them, and the transition to EVs and green hydrogen will be crucial, he noted.

According to a government press release, the country requires a comprehensive technology programme that includes developing appropriate battery systems like solid-state batteries, which can withstand high ambient temperatures in tropical regions. Further, given the large scope of activities to be conducted and the need for flexibility in programme management, there is a need to organise research programmes as special purpose vehicles that can coordinate with industries and academic institutions.

At the event, an expert analysed the subsystems involved in an EV battery as well as the assembly and manufacturing processes involved in ensuring battery systems are safe and pose no fire hazards. He also outlined the immediate actions required to produce high-quality, reliable battery packs.

A professor from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras (IIT-Madras) presented a roadmap for technology development in India for EV components, starting from basic research to applied research, application, engineering, and industrialisation. The professor explained that the diversity of EV platforms and models in India provides an opportunity to work at all levels and gain tremendous technology capabilities.

DST, over the past few years, has been promoting electric mobility in the country through subsidies, initiatives, and accessible infrastructure. A representative from DST noted that the department helped to develop a set of Indian standards required for EV charging infrastructure. Recently, it formulated the draft standards for the Battery-as-a-Service model (also known as battery swapping) for light EVs like scooters and autorickshaws.

In 2019, the government launched the FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EV) scheme. The ongoing project targets boosting the adoption of EVs, particularly in public and shared transportation. The aim is to support nearly 7,000 e-buses, 500,000 electric three-wheelers, 55,000 electric four-wheeler passenger cars, and one million electric two-wheelers through subsidies. With the considerable expansion in the public EV charging infrastructure, through both public and private involvement, EVs have started penetrating the Indian market.

In January, the country’s think tank, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) prepared a draft policy for the Indian Railways to set up EV charging infrastructure at stations across the country. As OpenGov Asia reported, the draft policy outlined using renewable energy in the charging facilities in line with Indian Railways’ aim to go carbon-neutral over the next eight years. Railway stations are landmark locations and play a unique role in the transport sector, making them strategic locations to provide public charging solutions.

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