NEW DELHI: The government is working on a scheme to encourage the use of commercial electric vehicles for city transport that will remove all necessary permits otherwise needed to run commercial vehicles, including taxis in the country. The government says it feels this has the potential to transform the electric mobility sector in the country.
The government, in partnership with taxi aggregator Ola, is also introducing a fleet of 300 electric cars in Nagpur to test the feasibility of electric taxis in the country, a top government official familiar with the said.
SoftBank Group chairman Masayoshi Son, the main investor in the cab aggregator, is also keen to launch such a service in India, the official said.
Ola and Softbank had made a proposal to run electric taxis in India to the government’s thinktank Niti Aayog which in turn has forwarded it to the road transport and highways ministry, the official explained.
The ministry allowed the aggregator to run such vehicles in any city of their choice and the roads minister Nitin Gadkari offered every support, including providing 300 charging points in Nagpur, which is also his parliamentary constituency. Ola did not respond to ET’s email query.
Gadkari, an electric mobility enthusiast, had during his visit to the Tesla Motors plant in the US last year invited the company to make India its Asia manufacturing hub. The minister had offered them land near Kandla port.
Tesla founder Elon Musk had confirmed his company would launch electric cars in India in the coming summer, but there’s still no word on whether it will be manufacturing in India.
“We want to push electric mobility in a big way. We are proposing that all permits that are required to run taxis should be removed in case the vehicle is electric so that running electric commercial vehicles get easier than running on other fuel. It should also be done for commercial vehicles such as busses and trucks,” Gadkari said.
Permits such as Contract Carriage Buses Permits, stage carrier permits, goods carriers, maxi cab, radio taxis and all India tourist permit are given to different categories of commercial vehicles by state governments. Getting and renewing these permits is a time-consuming and a costly affair for vehicle owners. Gadkari said he’s also working on a scheme where state transport corporations can get all their old buses converted to electric vehicles.
“For both these schemes, we’ll be talking to state governments. To start with, we can go ahead and remove national permits at least,” he said. Gadkari has also proposed various subsidies for electric vehicles and is already in talks with the finance ministry to get necessary exemptions.
Several factors including high vehicle cost, power outages, and dearth of facilities for eco-friendly disposal of batteries to curb pollution are the factors inhibiting Indians from buying electric vehicles.