India's electric vehicle makers seek govt help
INDIA: June 1, 2001
NEW DELHI - India's pioneering electric vehicle manufacturers showed off an
electric car, bus and auto rickshaws yesterday but said they needed government
help to make their environmentally friendly products more affordable.
"Electric vehicle manufacturers need a bit of hand-holding by the government
so we can grow in big numbers," said A. Sahay, vice chairman of the Electric
Vehicles Association of India.
Sahay was speaking at a line-up of five electric vehicles by Indian
manufacturers, including a compact two-door city car called Reva due to be
launched in Bangalore later this year at a price of 240,000 rupees ($5,100).
"These vehicles are beyond Euro I and Euro II emission norms. They are
zero-emission cars," said Sudarshan Maini, chairman of the Maini group, which
makes the Reva in association with Amerigon Inc of the United States.
The Reva, which can reach a maximum speed of 65 km (41 miles) an hour, will
also be sold abroad.
So far there are six electric vehicle manufacturers in India, four of which
have launched their products commercially.
Although cleaner than fossil-fuel driven vehicles, which are responsible for
making India's cities among the most polluted in the world, electric vehicles
still are too costly to become a common sight on the road, Sahay said.
"Imported components are now taxed up to 50 percent and excise duty has been
increased to 16 percent from eight percent," said Sahay, who is also chairman
of Scooters India Ltd.
The government levies a basic duty of 35 percent on the three major imported
components of electric vehicles - battery, motor and controller - whereas the
basic duty on compressed natural gas kits is five percent. This hurts the
commercialisation of electric vehicles, Sahay said.
According to a Supreme Court order, all commercial vehicles in Delhi must
switch to compressed natural gas by September.
Scooters India first launched its battery-powered three-wheeler, a
bubble-shaped taxi, in Nepal about seven years ago as part of a 'Save the
Himalayas' campaign and introduced it in India a year later.
Electric vehicles are not new on Indian roads. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd
launched an experimental, battery-operated bus in the 1980s.
"An electric car will be a secondary vehicle for most users. Three-wheelers
will have much more demand and will take a bigger chunk of the market," Sahay
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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