India struggle to bring EVs on the road as Norway emerges as the torchbearer of the EV market

The environment around us really plays a vital role in our day. We often fail to realize the importance of clean air but understand it only when it is too late. It has been the case all over the world as environmentalist and social activists have been pretty active lately. There are awareness campaigns and countries are meeting are various summits to just talk about how bad the air is because of our own doing. There is a huge amount of money being poured into this to undo the things we have done to this earth and rightly so.

India is one of the countries where pollution is of the highest quality. It is home to around nine of the ten most polluted cities in the world and that is a huge worry. The government of India is aware of this and is trying very hard to turn India into a greener country. However, the population being its boon as well as bane, implementing policies takes a lot of time. That said, the government has plans up its sleeve as if the Indian people accept a form of technology or a policy, it spreads like fire in a forest. It has happened with advancements like digital payments and online shopping.

That said, India is largely struggling to get out policies which are people friendly. Now, the government is planning to revolutionize the vehicle market in India. There are a lot of vehicles in the major cities in India and that is why the pollution is on the rise. The Indian government is trying to replace those vehicles with Electric Vehicles (EV). However, the market is out there to grab but there are some major problems.

The infrastructure required for an EV to run on the Indian streets is not in place. There are just 250 odd charging stations all around India. That is one of the problems, the other problem is that the EVs are too expensive for normal people to buy as India does not produce most of the mechanical parts required for an EV to function. Lithium-Ion battery, which is a major component in an EV, is imported into the country through China. So if an electric bus is to be manufactured in India, the battery itself will cost around INR 50-60 lakhs. The range of the car or an electric vehicle is dependent on the battery and hence it is very important to have a good and strong battery.

The Indian government has a lot of plans for EVs in India. It has allotted a huge sum of money to the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India which is long for FAME India. It is going to first deal with major corridors like Mumbai-Pune or Delhi-Chandigarh and setup EV friendly ecosystems. It is also giving out major subsidiaries to people trying to work in the EV field. The majority of the EV cars in the market are from TATA and Mahindra. However, they are struggling to find the right balance between quality and an aggressive price. The government had to scrap the plans of leasing 10000 EVs because of the quality of the vehicles.

That said, the reason for India’s struggle is major because of the lack of foresight. The sub-continent country can learn a great deal from Norway, a Scandinavian country which can be a reference for every country when it comes to implementing EVs. Norway has been at the forefront of this EV revolution. It has done everything right. The revolution of EV in the Scandinavian country started way back in 1989. They have successfully replaced 47% of the fuelled vehicles with EVs in their country. Now, let us look at their journey from 1989 to today.


Norway in 1989, Pop-group a-ha and an NGO in the name of Bellona joined hands and started promoting EVs. A year later, the government abolished all the taxes on the import of EVs or any material related to it. PIVCO an EV producer operated 12 electric vehicles during the 1994 winter Olympics. Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association was formed in 1995 and in 1996 it reduced the registration tax.


The year 1997 was crucial for them as the Norwegian government exempted every EV from road toll. This was crucial as road toll is something almost every traveler hates to pay and this was a huge step towards the awareness of EVs. In 1998, the brand Think, which was launched in 1991 was introduced to the whole world at the EVS15. In 1999, Think was bought by Ford, Electrical Vehicles got different registration plates which started with EL. A Danish company in the name of Kewet turned Norwegian. In 2000, car tax was reduced, 0% VAT was implemented in 2001 and Ford sold Think.


There were different lanes for the buses in Oslo. A couple of years later in 2005, the bus lanes were spread to the whole nation. Kewet was later named to New Buddy and was launched at EVS21 in Monaco. In 2008, Oslo’s municipal corporation launched a charging infrastructure program and Think city was also launched in Geneva.


In 2009, the government pumped in 7 million euros to start Transnova an EV infrastructure program. This program turned out to be brilliant as there were around 2000 charging points all over the country within two years of its initiation. EVS24 was held in Stavanger, Norway in 2009. Mitsubishi launched its e-car in 2011, sold a thousand and fifty units. Buddy and Think went bankrupt in 2011. In 2012, there were around 10000 EVs on the streets. The number accounted for 3% of the car sales that year. In 2018, 47% of the vehicles in Norway are EVs.

It is not always about having a lot of money, it is about having foresight. There is a difference between understanding the need at this moment and understanding the problems of the future. If anyone is able to do the latter, that person will have the most probable solutions to that problem and might also be able to evade it. That said, India and other developing countries can learn a great deal from Norway and its EV policy.

 – Unmesh Phule 

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