Govt refuses to budge on electric vehicle deadline for 2- and 3-wheelers

The government has refused to relent on the deadlines it has given two- and three-wheelers for running on batteries.

The deadline for three-wheelers is 2023, and that for two-wheelers having up to a 150-cc engine is 2025.

Industry executives who attended a high-powered meeting said the NITI Aayog had refused to extend the deadline and asked them to submit a road map on the proposal of transition in two weeks.

Makers of electric vehicles (EVs) and officials of the NITI Aayog and the government took part in the meeting.

The government is firm that extending the deadline is difficult, and tried to impress upon electric vehicle makers that unless they acted, the Courts would step and the big players would be left with little choice.

“We are giving them six years to complete the roll-out of the electronic two-wheeler, which is good enough,” said a senior official who participated in the meeting. He said the policy would drive change in India.

Industry executives said the aggressive road map of transition would hurt the sector commercially and they would petition the government through their lobby group Service Integration and Management (SIAM). 

“We will ask for a review. My assembly line, which has been set up with a large capital investment, cannot be changed overnight and transitioned in two years. That is impossible and will hit us commercially,” said an executive aware of the development.

“It was a very aggressive meeting between the government and the industry,” said another executive who attended it. “In their (NITI Aayog) wisdom, 2023 and 2025 are the deadlines they want the industry to adhere to. But they said if the industry had a better alternative, it should come back within 15 days.”

Earlier this month, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor Company said any plan to ban three-wheelers and two-wheelers running on the internal combustion engine was “unrealistic” and “ill-timed” and would destabilise the auto industry. Two-wheeler market leader Hero MotoCorp said the plan to shift to electric mobility at a time when the manufacturers were trying to upgrade their models to comply with BS-VI emission norms could have a bad impact on the industry.

The views of both the sides will now be placed before the high-powered transformative mobility panel, which comprises senior officials of the line ministries, experts and others.

Officials said imposing conditions on the companies to force them to move to EVs was ruled out for now, but if pushed too far, the government had options such as restricting registration and imposing the “polluter pays principle” on such companies.

An official said if the big companies gave a firm EV roll-out commitment, the government could consider increasing the subsidy to them under the FAME (faster adoption of manufacturing electric vehicles) policy.

Sources said two distinct views emerged in the meeting. While the emerging players and start-ups such as Torque, Revolt, Ather, Kinetic Green and Smart-e wanted the deadline for the two-wheeler roll-out to be advanced from 2025 to 2023 or earlier, established players like TVS, Bajaj and Hero Honda wanted a more “business as usual” approach and said the roll-out should not be made mandatory.

The start-ups said unless India had size and scale in EVs, it would miss the worldwide e-mobility revolution just as it missed other similar changes and paid a heavy price.

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