'CV retrofitting is serious idea, needs policy support'

'CV retrofitting is a serious idea, needs policy support'

Industry insiders have pointed out the need for a policy that encourages retrofitting of CVs

 Representative Image. Credit: DH Photo

Five years after the introduction of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, the number of electric vehicles (EV) is minuscule. The latest data indicates there are just 72,544 EVs in Karnataka, accounting for 0.26% of the 2.77 crore vehicles in the state. 

While nothing can substitute public transport in building sustainable cities, the lack of reliable buses and last mile connectivity is leading to growth of private vehicles. Even in the middle of the pandemic and high prices of petrol and diesel, 11.74 lakh new vehicles were purchased in Karnataka in 2021, which shows the preference for conventional vehicles (CV).

At a joint meeting of the Commerce and Industries Department with the Transport Department, experts and some industries pointed out that the push for EV will not make a real impact unless existing vehicles are converted with green technology.

An official said subsidies and low taxes can’t drive demand as the capital cost remains prohibitive while the conventional vehicles retain the image of reliability. He noted that even the government agencies are struggling to purchase e-buses, while the FAME scheme has run into its second phase.

Read: India's electric vehicle market could do with a jolt

Industry insiders at the meeting also pointed out the need for a policy that encourages retrofitting of CVs to convert them into fully or partially electric vehicles.

“The build of some of the EVs in the market is very poor. In an effort to reduce weight, some companies seem to have compromised on sturdiness, which is a necessity for longevity of the vehicle considering the conditions of the road. Most of the CVs are not only sturdy, many of these vehicles come with a structure suitable for retrofitting. This is especially true for scooters,” an industry insider said, adding that more companies need to work on a technology to convert cars.

A senior official in the Industries and Commerce Department said a draft policy paper has been sent to the Transport Department. 

“Retrofitting is a serious idea that needs policy support. A draft policy, which includes subsidies for converting vehicles into EV, has been formed and sent to the Transport Department. As the matter involves financing, it may take some time for finalising the policy,” the official said.

Principal Secretary to Transport Department Rajender Kumar Kataria said Karnataka’s EV policy was designed from a supply driven approach to promote industries.

“Now we are looking into the demand side to promote EV by the possibility of supporting individual buyers. The idea of subsidy needs to be studied. We are looking into the subsidies given in different states to individuals, including any scheme that supports retrofitting. We hope to have clarity on the matter in the next two months,” he said.

In Bengaluru, retrofitting has been embraced by ride-sharing company Bounce which had planned to convert its scooter inventory to electric.

Other companies have also come up with initiatives to retrofit old two wheelers. However, the exorbitant price of EV batteries has kept many from launching the initiative at commercial scale.

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