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Tamil Nadu, India launches its first electric bus

The Indian state Tamil Nadu launched its first electric, air-conditioned bus in Chennai.

It is the first of 525 buses that the state government plans to deploy, to reduce air pollution.

The buses are a part of Phase-II of the central government’s FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) Scheme.

FAME provides incentives to create demand and encourage the establishment of an electronic vehicle ecosystem and infrastructure. It also supports the development of electronic automotive technology through R&D.

The second phase of FAME-India intends to boost the implementation of electric vehicles in the public transport sector in the country and seeks to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles through interventions in demand and supply.

Under the scheme, the government of Tamil Nadu had agreed to purchase and operate the 525 electric buses in major cities like Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy, Erode, Tiruppur, Salem, Vellore. and Thanjavur.

When completely charged, the bus can travel up to 40 kilometres. Currently, the only charging point is at the central depot. Although a regular Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation vehicle costs much less than a battery-operated one, an electric bus significantly reduces the cost of fuel, a recurring expense for existing buses.

The bus has 32 seats and can carry an additional 25 standing commuters. A commuter would be charged IN ₹25 (US $0.35) a trip for covering end to end destinations of the route. The minimum fare is IN ₹11 (US $0.15).

The vehicle will be operated on a battery swap-basis, which means that on completion of a single round trip, its battery will be swapped.

The electric buses are being introduced on a pilot basis.

According to a government official, another electric bus will be introduced sometime in the next ten days. The bus complies with the standards of the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and is equipped with a Fire Detection and Suppression System (FDSS) and other facilities to monitor the driver’s functions and battery’s performance (battery level and temperature).

In the event of leakage of power, the FDSS will automatically arrest power supply. The I- Alert System will enable the monitoring of the system through remote control.

The FAME scheme in this year’s Union Budget will receive the provision of IN ₹10,000 crores (about US $1.4 billion) for electric mobility. Also, as India aims to become a global electric vehicle manufacturing hub, the GST rate on EVs will be lowered from 12% to 5%. The government is implementing an additional income tax deduction of about US $2,184 on interest for loans taken to purchase electric vehicles.

Earlier this month, the Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises inaugurated the 3rd International Electric Vehicle (EV) Conclave, which was held to create a knowledge-sharing platform to ensure the flow of information at all levels in the Indian automotive sector.

At the Conclave, the Minister said that the Electric Mobility Mission will be implemented in phases based on feedback from the auto industry. According to an official release, the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 is a National Mission document providing the vision and the roadmap for the faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing. It is designed to enhance national fuel security, provide affordable and environmentally friendly transportation, and enable the Indian automotive industry to achieve global manufacturing leadership.

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