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Budget 2023: Despite FAME subsidy fiasco, EV makers await a fresh booster

EV is crucial to government’s sustainability goals, including the zero carbon target

ev-vehicle-charging-arvind-jain (File) An electric vehicle charging station in New Delhi | Arvind Jain

The electric vehicle (EV) industry may be basking in the glow of the Auto Expo motor show held earlier this month, where companies big and small showcased electric vehicles and technology, clearly signifying the shift in focus. But the big question is, will this Wednesday’s Union budget be the icing on the cake?

Or worse, will it snub the sunrise sector over the FAME-II fiasco?

By all indications, the government is unhappy with the string of irregularities employed by some EV makers vis-a-vis the subsidy system it had given them via FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid vehicles) scheme, which had led to the blacklisting of more than a dozen companies. The ministry of heavy industries halted the sop, alleging that the companies had imported many parts contravening clauses in FAME-II policies, leading to prices shooting up.

The worry in the EV world is that the incident may just lead to the government steering clear of giving any more sop to the up and coming segment.

However, that hasn’t stopped the EV sector players, right from vehicle makers to battery solutions providers, to dream of pathbreaking measures and tax breaks. As they point out, EV is crucial to the government’s sustainability goals, including the zero carbon target (presently set by India at 2070) as well as the circular economy.

“The prime minister has rightly acknowledged that India needs to develop self-reliance in energy security, and called for a ‘Make in India’ circular economy,” said Rahat Verma, CEO & founder of Lohum, a startup that recycles battery parts, including the much-valued Lithium. “Government support can greatly accelerate this shift and magnify its rewards, which we hope to see in the budget this year,” he added.

Beyond FAME subsidy, many players believe the time has come to focus on the individual customer, and help him by way of easy loans. “It’s simple. We want the government to provide easy retail finance — get banks to finance electric vehicles,” said Uday Sarang, founder and chairman of Omega Seiki Mobility, an EV startup.

Sakshi Vij, founder and MD of Myles Car, a self-drive car sharing company, agrees. “While commercial EV has seen a good adoption, the individual vehicle owner is still on the fence. If the budget addresses issues such as high initial cost of ownership through incentivising individual vehicle owners the EV adoption will see a boost. Ease of registration, electric bill incentives as well and carbon footprint saving incentives could be a step in the right direction for individual travellers as well.”

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