India’s 2030 All-Electric Car Target Seen `Ambitious’ by IEA

India’s potential plan to sell only electric cars by the end of next decade would require nearly eight times the global stock of such vehicles, according to the International Energy Agency.

The country would need to sell more than 10 million electric cars in 2030, compared with the almost 1.3 million on the road worldwide in 2015, the agency said in an emailed response to questions. The goal also equals 10 percent of the 2030 target for electric vehicles on the road globally agreed to in the Paris climate talks.

While the details are yet to be worked out, “it is an ambitious plan nonetheless,” the IEA said. “Regardless, the exact formulation of the target and the extent of its long-term achievement, it is a good step that will help India to be among the global leaders in deploying a technology that is crucial to temper increasing oil import needs, local air pollution in cities, and limit CO2 emissions.”

India’s fast-growing economy and rising urbanization has set it on course as a key driver of global energy growth in the coming decades. A group of ministers has been directed to ensure that by 2030 almost all vehicles in the country are powered by electricity as a way to cut oil imports and pollution, according to a government statement in March citing Power Minister Piyush Goyal. The idea is that not a single gasoline or diesel car should be sold in the country by then, the Press Trust of India reported Goyal as saying.

“These are the types of ambitious targets that drive transformations,’’ said Clay Stranger, director at U.S.-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which has prepared a report on India’s mobility sector with the government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog.

While reaching the target would chop almost 10 percent of India’s 2030 forecast oil use, the country would remain a key center of global consumption growth, second only to China, as road freight transport, petrochemicals and the residential sector continue to push demand higher, the IEA said.

Infrastructure Hurdles

The government would need to build more charging points and lower the cost of electric vehicles if it wants to achieve its goal, according to Tushar Bansal, director at energy consultant Ivy Global Energy Pte.

“The electric vehicles today can only go a limited distance before requiring recharging,” Bansal said. “Because of the number of infrastructural additions and changes required, replacing gasoline cars with electric vehicles is expected to be a longer drawn-out affair as the market will take time to adjust.”

India had close to 5,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of last year, according to the IEA. That compares with the more than 3 million passenger vehicles sold in the country in the year ended March 31, according to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Companies including Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., Volvo Cars, BMW AG and Toyota Motor Corp. sell electric or hybrid cars in India. Mahindra offers its e2O Plus in Delhi at 626,387 rupees ($9,724), not including taxes, according to its website. The cheapest gasoline powered car can be bought for about a third of that.

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