Touting India’s huge potential in taking the lead in electric mobility, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said the adoption of electric vehicles would help reduce the government’s import bill substantially which in turn will help create “crores of jobs” in the country.
“One of the biggest challenges for us is imports. Our import bill for crude oil alone is Rs 7 lakh crore,” Gadkari said in a video message for the News18 Tech and Auto Awards, adding that if the switch from petrol and diesel vehicles can save Rs 2 lakh crore in import costs, that money would create employment.
The ruling BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was re-elected in May with a strong mandate, is adamant that the future of India’s auto industry is electric, and it is steadily sweetening incentives to produce and buy electric vehicles.
Gadkari said he is “100 per cent confident” that the auto industry can make India a manufacturing hub of electric mobility and asserted that all favourable conditions are present for manufacturing of EVs in India.
“We have got the engineering capability, scale, manpower, and the availability of the raw material. Because of the scrappage policy, it will be easy for automobile manufacturers to reduce costs as recycling of material will become very easy,” he told News18.
Enumerating the benefits that the switch to EVs would bring, he said the import of crude oil and the use of petrol and diesel vehicles also contributes a lot to pollution and leads to other problems for the country.
The minister said this is the time that we need a policy as EVs are “import-substitute, cost effective and pollution-free”. Now, he added, India needs to develop indigenous technology to make e-rickshaws, electric autos, electric buses and electric cars.
He said that while India needs to import fuel, it has a huge potential in power generation, particularly solar power, and its coal blocks are also the largest in the world. So, he said, running electric vehicles would be economically viable of rate per unit of power is compared to petrol and diesel prices.
Gadkari announced that the government is also considering building “e-highways”, on which he said there would be charging stations. “We are building a 12-lane expressway between New Delhi and Mumbai and it will pass through all backward regions in Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Now the idea is, the first 10 km of this highway in Gurgaon will be made as an e-highway,” he said.
“We want to use electric as the fuel on the express highway. It will be a gamechanger. Now the cost of going by road is Rs 10 per km, railways is Rs 6 per km, waterways is Re 1 per km. So cost for travelling by road is very high. But if we replace petrol and diesel with electric vehicles, the cost will come down to Rs 5. This is the future,” he said.