India can become electric vehicle manufacturing hub within five years: Nitin Gadkari

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India can become an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing hub within five years, according to road transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who urged the industry to grab opportunities as global companies seek alternatives to Chinese supply chains in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s a blessing in disguise for the Indian economy that the whole world is now not very much interested to deal with China,” the minister told a webiner yesterday. Speaking at the India’s Electric Vehicle Roadmap Post-Covid-19 event, Gadkari added: “A lot of people from different parts of the world want to deal with India. The government is trying to extend [the] best possible concessions to this [EV] sector, and has lowered the goods and service tax on electrical vehicles to 12%.”

The minister also hinted at plans to establish an electric highway along the planned Delhi-Mumbai Green Corridor.

Imports

Gadkari used his webinar address to emphasize the importance of cutting India’s  dependence on Chinese imports and asked the EV industry to find alternatives to lithium-ion battery technology using raw materials available in India.

“It’s time for Indian innovators and manufacturers to find alternatives,” said the minister, who said some Indian start-ups were already pursuing different energy storage solutions.

“As new options are coming up every other day, the industry needs to look at technology which will be successful in the long term,” said Gadkari, stressing the need to upgrade charging technology too.

The minister said the world needed alternatives to petrol, and electric and biofuel options have a good shot at adoption.

Gadkari also hinted at a car scrappage scheme to give a boost to auto manufacturers and said the public-private investment model for public transport in London could be beneficial for commuters and government if emulated in India.