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Despite skyrocketing fuel prices, e-vehicles remain unpopular in Kerala.

Despite skyrocketing fuel prices, e-vehicles remain unpopular in Kerala. It’s been almost two years since the government finalised the e-vehicle policy for the state. As part of the initiative, the state planned to expand usage of e-rickshaws in the state and had announced special subsidies and incentives for around 10,000 beneficiaries. Unfortunately, so far only 286 applicants have availed of the subsidy.

Lack of charging station, concerns about durability of battery, unavailability of spare parts, and lack of service and support are the reasons for people’s reluctance towards owning e-vehicles. The e-rickshaw feeder service introduced in Kochi Metro and Smart City Thiruvananthapuram Ltd (SCTL) was not a success, raising serious concerns about the future of e-vehicles in the state.

The state budget for 2019-20 had proposed to increase the number of e-vehicles to one million by 2022. As per the data with the Motor Vehicles Department, the state has around 7,850 electric vehicles. Riding over these challenges and promoting e-transportation is going to be no easy task for the government. According to an official of the state-owned Kerala Automobiles Ltd (KAL), the initiative is in the early stages and it would take two to three years to mark its presence in the state.

“First and foremost, we need more charging stations. It is the key to enhance e-vehicle density in the state. Another issue is battery life, which depends on various aspects like the terrain and handling of the vehicle. Though the company offers a three-year warranty, the battery life is unpredictable,” said an official of KAL.

The official added the fast charging concept is yet to be introduced. Though there are schemes, financial institutions are not ready to give loans, said KAL MD A Shajahan. “This is the primary reason for fewer applicants. We have around 12 dealers across the state and we hope this year we will sell more e-vehicles. The pandemic has also adversely impacted the sale. We are hoping to sell a minimum of 2,000 vehicles this year,” he added.

The unavailability of spare parts is another challenge. “We have sold around 150 autos ever since the launch of the vehicle. Once the demands go up we will have to offer better spare parts management and service,” said the official.

The pandemic hurt the implementation of e-vehicle policy in the state. “We are expecting more promotional funds from the government. We plan to reach out to the auto clusters and sensitise the community. We are also planning to operate e-autos for free to a designated location from Trivandrum Central Station to promote the initiative,” the official added.

LOANS, EXTRA SUBSIDIES

A senior official of the Transport Commissionerate said the state government failed and there are not many takers for e-vehicles despite attractive subsidies and incentives. To woo more beneficiaries, the government is planning to come up with special loans. “We are planning to give loans via state-owned financial institutions and extra subsidies so that the beneficiaries can get the vehicle without initial investment,” said the official. The official added the technology hasn’t matured yet and there should be a mechanism to redress the complaints of vehicle owners.

More charging stations

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) will set up more charging stations across the state as part of the e-vehicle policy. KSEB would be setting up 56 charging stations this financial year.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Shainu Mohan

Quelle/Source: The New Indian Express, 06.08.2021

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