World EV Day 2022: Interview with Sudhendhu Sinha, NITI Aayog

Electric Mobility Team, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, September 21, 2022

Electric vehicles (EVs) are emerging at the forefront of driving the shift in mobility away from traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to more sustainable options. We speak with Sudhendhu Sinha, Advisor (Infrastructure, Connectivity & Electric Mobility) NITI Aayog on the potential ways for India to unlock its full EV potential.

What are your thoughts on decarbonisation of the transport sector in India?

Decarbonising transport is critical for India as it would translate into climate actions. NITI Aayog promotes EVs and sustainable mobility through  various missions such as  National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage.

To leverage and streamline EVs across the country, a favourable ecosystem for various stakeholders is required. Key stakeholders include the central government and state governments, state-designated agencies, financial institutions, businesses, OEMs, research and technical institutes, private bodies and think tanks.

What in your opinion are the bottlenecks to EV adoption in India?

Although EVs have seen traction in India, there are several gaps that still need to be addressed. Major bottlenecks include EV financing, charging infrastructure, grid capacities and high battery costs. The ongoing shortages in battery supplies is an area of concern for the EV transition as well.

How is NITI Aayog accelerating charging infrastructure in India?

NITI Aayog has released a handbook for implementation of public and semi-public charging infrastructure. This handbook is planned as  a live document that will be updated regularly  to cater to the dynamic EV market. We have also developed the E-AMRIT l (Accelerated e-Mobility Revolution for India’s Transportation) portal to create EV-awareness and provide useful information on the entire EV charging value chain and its stakeholders.

What are your thoughts on EV financing or green finance?

Easier access to EV financing is key to EV uptake in India. The inclusion of EVs under RBI’s priority sector lending guidelines can mobilise requisite capital. NITI Aayog, along with World Bank and SBI, have been working to finalise a ‘first loss risk sharing instrument’  worth USD 300 million, which could play a key role in financing USD 1.5 billion for EVs.

This instrument can be used as a hedging mechanism to protect banks from loan defaulters on EV purchases by lowering the cost of financing from 25% to 10-12%.

Any thoughts on the electrification of freight?

Freight could prove to be a game changer in transport emissions if electrified. The fact that medium and heavy-duty trucks ply inter-state, makes it difficult to bring them under the purview of one state policy. A national level regulation is what is required for freight electrification. However, apart from Government initiatives,  manufacturers also need to collaborate and take initiatives for innovative solutions, possibly on the lines of the JV between Traton, Daimler and Volvo in EU – that plans to invest USD 500mn for the EV transition.

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