Auto Industry Urges Kerala Government for a Collaborative EV Policy

The recent move of the Kerala government that has set a target of putting 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) on road by 2022 which the state has rolled out an electric vehicle policy (EVP) studded with tax holidays and creation of common charging infrastructure is marred by controversy and lopsided approach.

Kerala government has released an EV policy focusing on transition of “light electric vehicles” including two-wheelers, three wheelers and cars through swappable batteries. State level “Technical Advisory Committee” has been instrumental in proposing the impractical and problem led solution. Industry experts like Mukesh Malhotra who was formerly with ICRA and those closely associated the auto industry over decades like John K Paul ,Managing Director Popular Vehicles & Services Ltd feel that such suggestions on swapping have been rejected in the most competent multi-stakeholder forums.

In its vision paper, the industry body SIAM says “To make sure that this vision is realized, the industry, government and various stakeholders will need to collaborate and invest. As the electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly therefore, the policy will need to be necessarily adaptive while at the same time must not bring sudden changes so as to allow outcomes in a planned manner and to ensure that the necessary transformation takes place with the minimum of disruption which may have socio-economic impact in terms of industrial growth, employment and livelihood of people in the auto industry”.

Swapping of batteries has unresolved issues for customers related to safety, warranty and consistent performance. These major issues have been ignored by policy makers in Kerala. KPMG in detailed note on EV earlier this year, highlights the failure such initiatives on swapping quoting failed initiatives world over and customer issues.

Industry expert Mukesh Malhotra also feels that “incentives and promotion by government should be technology agnostic. This would only lead to fair choices to customers and sustainable EV transition. Promoting standard batteries will curtail innovation and availability of best prevailing solutions to customers. It will also give undue advantage to companies promoting standard batteries.”

While welcoming the draft policy for Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption by the Government of Kerala John K Paul said “ The draft policy for Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption by the Government of Kerala is a welcome move. It is encouraging to note the commitment of the Government to develop an environment friendly EV sector.  One of the major emphasis of the proposed policy is on swapping of batteries. However, swapping continues to be faced with the unresolved issues for customers including safety, warranty and consistent performance. It is too early in the innovation cycles of EV’s to standardise anything. Incentives and promotions driving early adoption of EV should be technology agnostic. This would pave the way for more innovation and lead to fair choices for customers in an sustainable EV transition”