Written by Rajeev Singh and Sumit Mishra
The electrification of vehicles has started gaining momentum and has opened new mobility avenues for India to tap into. India is all set to position itself as one of the leading marketplaces for Electric Vehicles (EVs).
The current outlook for EVs is optimistic as the sector has seen the evolution of several trends that are defining the growth of EVs. EV adoption can be seen across different vehicle segments as well as different business segments. Favorable plans and policies have been developed by the government like National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme to drive the transition towards the EV ambition of India.
Localization is the key to make the EV sector cost competitive
The EV ecosystem comprises key elements on the demand side, supply side and facilitators/enablers. The development of all the ecosystem elements needs to be balanced to promote EV uptake. The demand side is supported by various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives provided to the users to increase the uptake. Facilitators or the enabler side is being planned by emergence of multiple business models, development of charging infrastructure, adopting a suitable charging standard, amendment of building byelaws, etc.
But the supply side is yet to be evolved completely. The localization of the key components in the supply chain of any automotive vehicle is depicted in the diagram. It can be observed that the major components are not localised, i.e. either manufactured or assembled in India.
In order to unlock India’s potential in the electric mobility domain, it is critical for India to become self-reliant and augment the capacity in manufacturing critical components over a period of time. The impetus should also focus on domestic manufacturing of batteries and its components in the long-term, for which India currently depends on other countries, including China.
There are roadblocks to localization
There are several major challenges to domestic battery production. Firstly, battery technology is currently evolving at a rapid pace with new chemistries gaining popularity. The associated R&D is technology intensive. The other challenges include unavailability of raw materials. It is a harsh reality that the basic components, i.e., lithium cells that go into the manufacturing of li-ion batteries, are not yet produced in India. Hence, ensuring a reliable supply not just of the raw materials but also of the processed functional materials used in the anode and cathode, poses a challenge. Moreover, the technologies for making these batteries are also not available in India. The existing tax regime also poses a roadblock to the EV adoption in India. A battery is one of the key raw material for EVs but the capacity of Indian manufacturers is limited.
Domestic impetus can make EVs a sunrise sector
The batteries contribute the largest to the EV cost. Also, the potential for localisation of chassis, bodies and BMS are high while localisation of specialized components such as batteries and motors could be limited. The import of finished product should be discouraged while at the same time manufacturing of the finished product be encouraged by altering the tax regime. Moreover, in order to facilitate the localisation in India, the phasing of the investments may begin with assembling and then gradually move to manufacturing. Thus, the phased focus on the sector will help in import substitution of key auto components and improve its export share, meeting global demand giving a shift towards electric mobility and making India ‘Atmanirbhar’. Some of the key components that may be planned as part of the phasing strategy includes the following-
The way forward
Achieving indigenisation across key components looks challenging, however, investment, innovation, research and development (R&D) across the right technologies will be the key. Innovations in battery manufacturing and setting up giga factories in the country will also be crucial.
Indigenisation of EV components and battery pack assembly has a probability to produce a higher output value addition for the Indian auto industry in case of an EV transition. Policy interventions to enhance the competitiveness of EVs in India across various segments should be identified.
One such government initiative which is pushing the localization of EVs includes Phased Manufacturing Plan (PMP). It identifies a graded duty structure to encourage indigenous manufacturing. The recently approved production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for the automobile and battery manufacturing sectors could also enable the right ecosystem for indigenisation and value creation in the EV sector.
OEMs should focus on R&D for providing a better value proposition and reduction in cost of the EV technology. A combination of supply-push and demand-pull measures should be adopted to boost the penetration of EVs manufacturing in India over period of time. For India to harness its true potential and transition towards a road of electric vehicle mobility, it is critical that all relevant stakeholders not only value the importance but strive towards the effective implementation of the same by integrating all the factors.
– Rajeev Singh, Partner, Automotive Leader, Deloitte India and Sumit Mishra, Director, Deloitte India. Views expressed are personal.