Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj Auto Limited, has now voiced his concerns over the government's proposal to make all three-wheelers 100 per cent electric by 2023, and all two-wheeler below 150 cc electric by 2025. The government of India's ambitious plans for mass vehicle electrification in the country has already been met with industry bodies SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) as well as CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) urging the government for a rethink and a well thought out plan before announcing any deadline for a flat ban on two-wheelers and three-wheelers with internal combustion engines. Now, the Bajaj Auto chief has also given a strong statement against the government's draft proposal.
"On the reported initiative of the Government of India mandating 100 per cent EVs for sale of three-wheelers by 2023 and two-wheelers by 2025, I completely agree with the spirit of this initiative in that India must demonstrate a pioneer rather than laggard mindset. However I have three execution related concerns," Bajaj said in a statement.
"First that it may be impractical to target such a scale when none of the stakeholders currently possess any meaningful experience with any of the pieces of the EV puzzle. Secondly that it's ill-timed to target a date so close to BS6 implementation. And finally, to target two and three wheelers but not cars etc. makes it an incomplete initiative," Bajaj said.
"An appropriate middle path to my mind would be in the first phase to target such a changeover through Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) norms / electric vehicles for all vehicle categories from a particular date such as 2023 or 2025 starting with the most polluted cities of India. Basis the learnings from that experience a collective plan can be put together to scale up as desired," Bajaj added.
While the government has proposed a blanket ban on all two-wheelers with internal combustion engines of 150 cc and below by 2025 and to replace all three-wheelers with electric vehicles by 2023, no mainstream manufacturer has a single electric two-wheeler which is production-ready at the moment. The industry is currently coping with the transformation to meet the Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) emission regulations which will come into effect from April 1, 2020. At this stage, the auto industry, as well as the apex body if industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) feels that a move to make two-wheelers and three-wheelers electric will be disruptive, and also requires considerable planning and execution to simultaneously develop a complete ecosystem around EVs, including an effective supply chain.
Bajaj Auto Limited is currently working on a new vehicle vertical, called Urbanite, which will usher in the next generation of electric mobility solutions. The first Bajaj electric two-wheeler is currently undergoing tests and is likely to be launched sometime later this year. Other mainstream two-wheeler manufacturers are also in the process of developing their own range of EVs, but so far, not a single electric two-wheeler is production ready, even as the industry is gearing up to make changes to leapfrog into the stringent BS-VI emission regulations.