The year 2020 was touted to be an inflection point for electric vehicles by industry experts and many analysts if the product launches at the Auto Expo 2020 were anything to go by.
As an indicator for the future of the Indian market, Auto Expo 2020 was largely centered around the trends of Indian transportation viz. the electricity-powered vehicles.
Every player in the market starting with Maruti Suzuki to new entrants like MG Motor and Great Wall Motors put their best electric models and concepts forward from their respective arsenal. One thing they were not prepared for is an unknown and unheard-of tornado that was making its way to disrupt the entire ecosystem – Covid-19.
The narrative changed within days of its arrival into our lives. COVID-19 has taken the entire world by storm and the Indian automobile industry was not left far behind when the pandemic struck.
The industry, which was already grappling with BS-VI emission norms deadline was not set to deal with yet another blow, a severe one at that, when a 21-day lockdown was imposed to contain the rampant spread of the deadly, life-threatening virus.
Precautionary measures like curfews, lockdowns, quarantine, and social distancing were implemented across countries, governments, and communities. India was not left far too behind. Infact, we came out standing tall as the largest democracy in the world to have taken the step bringing normal life to a standstill by imposing a lockdown, never seen before. Perhaps, one that was only witnessed during war times.
COVID-19 put the brakes on the auto industry across the globe and the electric vehicle industry was no exception with NEV sales plunging to an all-time low in the world’s largest EV hub, China. Industry leaders were forced to assess how this disruption would transform India’s electrification drive.
With so much chaos around, India’s electrification drive has seemingly lost momentum and a delay is imminent.
Now, it is not just about COVID-19 hitting the market. The larger impact was also felt owing to the crude oil price and how it has been behaving for the last 100+ days. It is no secret that futures dipped to subzero levels for the first time in the history – what was termed as unanticipated and unexpected, yet a sentiment driven by market demand and customer sentiment.
Fact also remains that electric vehicle manufacturers can only rev up when crude oil again jumps to $60. As earlier, the industry has benchmarked the $100 price of the battery to mass-produce electric vehicles.
The automobile sector is facing a recession since the last one year as consumers are unsure about the future of transportation in India. BS-6 standard engines are being introduced and being made mandatory by the government of India for automobile industries. The reason states is that it emits far less pollution as compared to BS- engines.
Contrary to this, consumers are still not sure about the performance of electric vehicles.
Another factor influencing customer adoption is the high cost of electric vehicles, an important point needs to be addressed to enhance customer demand.
Let’s not forget, we are still a country that lives by the ‘deti kitna hai’ approach.
We are still dominated by the mass market, are price sensitive and ROI is the most important factor in every major decision we make. Noteworthy to mention is that the recent BS-VI regulations have increased the costs of ICE vehicles, making EVs a bit more attractive.
So, while the entire automobile industry will be impacted including, the impact on EVs may be slightly lower than ICE. As (and when) the lockdown ends, it might be the best time to introduce electric vehicles in the market.
Due to COVID 19, the power sector is now generating more energy as compared to consumption. After the lockdown ends, energy sectors will require large amounts of electricity.
In order to maintain the energy balance, energy consumption is required at the consumer end. In this scenario, vehicle to grid and grid to vehicle facility in electric vehicles provides a suitable solution to store energy in electric vehicles during off-peak hours and use it primarily for transportation.
The extra amount of energy available in electric vehicles will integrate with the grid during peak hours to maintain the average energy consumption ratio on the grid. Consumers can get incentives to supply extra amounts of energy to the grid during peak hours.
Solar PV modules also generate electricity and can be a source of supply to the grid during day hours, but peak hours in residual sectors are normally in the evening and therefore there is a need to maintain alternative energy generation sources or reserve capacity in electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles are not just cost-effective sources of clean transportation, they can also augment the power grid and become a source of energy for industrial use and city distribution systems.
The Authors of this article are Akash Talwariya, Research Scholar- EE, JKLU Jaipur and Dr. Pushpendra Singh, Associate Professor-EEE, JKLU Jaipur.