Mr. Saurav Kumar, Partner, Induslaw

Ms. Swathi Sreenath, Principle Associate, Induslaw

‘The Green Transformation of India’s Mobility Sector’


India stands as one of the fastest-growing economies globally, with its mobility sector advancing at an even more accelerated rate. At the same time, mobility stands as one of the foremost sources of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. To address these challenges, India is committed to a green transformation of its mobility sector. The Government of India (GoI) has set targets for reducing emissions from the sector, and it is investing heavily in the development of green mobility technologies and infrastructure. Drawing insights from leaders in this field, such as France, can provide valuable guidance for the way forward.

Electrification Challenges

Foremost among the strategies adopted by India is the electrification of the vehicle fleet. The GoI has set a target of 30% electric vehicle (EV) sales by 2030, and to achieve this target, it has rolled out schemes such as the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) scheme and Production Linked Incentives (PLI) scheme for the automotive sector. These schemes have been successful in providing an initial impetus to EV sales in India.

However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed to accelerate the adoption of EVs. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of adequate charging infrastructure. In urban areas, where EVs are most prevalent, India heavily relies on public charging facilities due to the relatively fewer single-family homes in the country. The efficacy of this reliance is compounded by several factors, including grid infrastructure instability, multiplicity of charging standards, and high real estate leasing costs.

Localised manufacturing

The accomplishment of a sustainable vehicle fleet is dependent on ensuring that the sourcing of components for these EVs is sustainable and localised. While GoI schemes incentivise localisation of components, India is reliant on imports for its EV-battery needs. Recent discovery of lithium and allowance for commercial mining are expected to pave the way for more localisation, but it is yet to be seen whether these developments will substitute imports.

Research into alternative fuels such as hydrogen fuel cells, biofuels, and non-lithium-based batteries such as solid-state batteries may offer solutions to India’s import dependence problem.

Urban Infrastructure Reform

Though there have been strides in electrification initiatives, there is a need for greater emphasis on reducing the number of motorised vehicles in circulation. For example, the French Government has recently passed the Mobility Orientation Law with provisions for decreasing car use, increasing the share of cycling, creating authorities for regulating carsharing and carpooling, among others. These laws have shown to reduce the need for motorised transport for short-distance journeys. In India, pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure is relatively limited, leading pedestrians and cyclists having to share the road with motorized vehicles often.

That said, the National Smart Cities Mission, supported by the French Development Agency, has kickstarted efforts to improve urban infrastructure. This initiative includes implementing innovative solutions like intelligent transportation systems and smart grids in cities like Chandigarh, Nagpur, and Puducherry.

As India strives for a sustainable and environmentally conscious transportation system, addressing these issues will be pivotal to achieving a cleaner and more efficient mobility landscape, setting an inspiring example for the world.

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