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Discussion on electric, hybrid vehicles, alternative fuel tops agenda at SIAM meet

Discussions on promotion of electric and hybrid vehicles and developing technology to run vehicles on alternative fuel like bio-fuel topped the agenda of ministers and industry stakeholders at the annual automobile convention held here on Thursday.

At the inaugural session of the 57th SIAM Annual Convention 2017, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Anant Geete said the government was considering the extension of a scheme to promote electric and hybrid vehicles by another six months.

“Most likely, we will extend it for another six months after the end of September. Earlier, the phase one of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME)-India scheme was extended by six months,” said Geete.

The scheme’s phase-I was introduced from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari exhorted the automobile industry to develop technology to run vehicles on alternative fuel like bio-fuel.

“There is economic viability in new technology. Let us plan for the next 25 years. I would strongly urge the sector to invest in public transport and develop electric bikes and electric cars. I urge automobile companies to diversify in alternative fuel,” said Gadkari.

He added that the government is planning to bring second generation ethanol as an alternative fuel.

Low per capita car ownership in India will be advantageous for the country for mass adoption of EVs (electric vehicles), said NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

According to him, for mass scale EV adoption and to make India a base for EV production challenges such as indigenous battery production and creation of charging infrastructure need to be met.

At present, India has a low per capita car ownership of 20 vehicles per 1,000 citizens in comparison to 800 vehicles per 1,000 citizens in the US and 85 per 1,000 citizens in China.

“Low per capita car ownership which uses internal combustion engine gives India a unique opportunity to pursue a different growth model in this sector,” said Kant.

The transformation to electric cars is inevitable in India for which integration of different industries and building the relevant ecosystem is necessary, said Renault India head.

“It’s an opportunity for our industry. Once policy is defined…. research, cost and fast charging are three key factors in development of an electric car,” said Renault India CEO and MD Renault India Operations Sumit Sawhney.

“Lot of research is happening on the battery. Cost is high but it will come down to one-third or less in coming times. Over period of time with research, the cost will reduce. There is fast charging — 80 per cent of battery is charged in 20-30 minutes,” he said.

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