The 2022 Union Budget speech included the announcement of a battery swapping policy, push for greener and electric mobility in public transport, and no-go zones for ICE vehicles
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced in her 2022 Union Budget speech that the Govt of India will increase focus towards electric vehicles. The biggest highlight of her speech regarding the auto industry was the announcement of a new Battery Swapping Policy. Private companies will be encouraged to set up battery-swapping stations to help expand EV infrastructure in the country.
The minister also stated that there will be a heavy focus on pushing greener vehicles and EVs for public transportation in India. A national battery swapping policy could potentially help in boosting the practicality of EVs, as swapping an empty battery for a charged one is far quicker and easier than charging a battery up. Pushing for public transport vehicles that run on clean fuels or electricity would be a great step in accelerating their adoption.
The central and some state governments are already pushing for private and commercial EVs as well, by offering subsidies to early adopters. Also, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has issued a draft notification recently that BS6-compliant cars can now legally be modified to run on LPG and CNG fuels, which is another step towards clean mobility.
Nirmala Sitharaman also announced that special mobility zones will be set up across India for EVs. These zones will exclude fossil-fuel-powered ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles entirely. “To promote a shift to the use of public transport in urban areas, special mobility zones with zero fossil fuel policy to be introduced,” she said in her speech.
Finance Minister also revealed that defence R&D will now be open to private companies. She stated that this would help automotive component manufacturers in the country grow. It is worth noting that manufacturers like Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra have manufactured vehicles for the armed forces in the past, including army-spec versions of their passenger cars as well as special defence-only vehicles.
Personally speaking, a strong battery swapping infrastructure is a good step towards electrification, although the govt will have to share more details about it for us to know more. However, for this to be a truly practical step, electric vehicles batteries would have to be standardised. This would allow EVs to roll up at any swapping station, exchange a depleted battery for a new one, pay up, and drive away – similar to how fuel stations currently work.
Sadly, the budget did not include any tax breaks or financial aid for ICE vehicle manufacturers. Due to rising production (raw materials) costs and transportation (fuel) costs, the prices of new vehicles have been rising steadily in India. This is a huge problem for new buyers, and it has also resulted in a sales slowdown in the Indian automobile industry.
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