going electric by force

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As a resident of New Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted metros, I’d naturally support any initiative that makes the air easier to breathe. And yet the government plan to shift the two-wheeler industry entirely from internal combustion to electric vehicles in just six years sounds utterly unrealistic. And mind you, we are talking of converting the world’s biggest two wheeler market, with annual sales of about 20 million units.

As Rajiv Bajaj of Auto says in his usual forthright way in an interview with ET, “I cannot understand how somebody can imagine that 1% (the current share of electric vehicles) can become 100% in six years’ time.” No one can force the customer to buy in.

While auto makers may have a lot to answer for, the current official line seems born of an unhealthy obsession with China, the leader in electric vehicles. But as far as I know, China didn’t try to go the whole way in a single shot as India wants to. Looks like a recipe for disaster.

This has turned into a battle between venture-funded electric vehicle start-ups and established two-wheeler players. The government is aligning with the former to pressure the latter. Officials might do well to remember that nine out of ten start-ups tend to fold up.

About the author

Sreekant Khandekar

A serial media entrepreneur, I started professional life as a news journalist. Am a voracious reader with a deep interest in societal change.
I was the founding editor of A&M, India’s first national publication for advertising, marketing and media. It spawned coverage of this space in all publications. Also co-founded afaqs!, The Mobile Indian and Kulzy.

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