With India’s electric vehicle (EV) push replete with uncertainties, the focus seems to be shifting again to readily available clean fuels to run the country’s growing transport industry.
The Indian Auto LPG Coalition (IAC), the apex body for the Auto LPG sector in India, has once again urged the government to relook at its singular push for EVs, even as cleaner and immediately deployable gaseous fuels like Auto LPG continue to face policy discrimination.
The call has been made as the EV plan of the government seems to be taking its own time to take off in a big way despite the Rs 10,000 crore grant being provided by the government under the FAME II programme. Only recently JSW Energy announced its decision to pull out from the EV plan owing to high uncertainties associated with the business.
“JSW Energy‘s recent announcement to back out from their EV plans due to uncertainties and high business risks confirm what we have been cautioning all along — that when it comes to EVs, the government is banking on just too many disruptions.
“We are at a stage when EVs are not yet viable on Indian roads. We need major improvements on battery technology, creation of mammoth charging infrastructure and sweeping innovations to bring down vehicle costs,” said Suyash Gupta, Director General at IAC.
“Even at its fastest, a realistic footprint of EV would take 20 or more years at least. And regrettably, the government’s singular focus on EVs is depriving citizens of other, more easily deployable cleaner fuels such as Auto LPG,” Gupta added.
The Indian Auto LPG Coalition’s main issue with the government is differential tax treatment given to their industry though they are not separate from other cleaner forms of fuels. Auto LPG continues to be taxed at high GST rates with a series of unfavourable policies hindering its growth.
“What we need is a multi-pronged approach which gives equal ground to each clean fuel. This will not only be a wiser and more equitable approach for the industry, but will also benefit the Indian air quality faster,” Gupta said.
Auto LPG is already available in 500 cities across India and needs no infrastructure development for transport. However, it is taxed at a high GST slab of 18 per cent, making it costlier for consumers.
Similarly, the government charges conversion kits for auto LPG and CNG at the highest slab of 28 per cent. At the same time, the anomalous type approval norms governing the retro fitment industry have become a major hurdle to its growth.
Like all key gaseous fuels, Auto LPG has almost negligible PM (particulate matter) emissions and emits up to 90 per cent lesser nitrogen dioxide (NOx) than diesel and 60 per cent lesser NOx than petrol. Auto LPG also emits about 22 per cent lower carbon dioxide (CO2) than petrol.
Though the Indian auto industry launched a few vehicles that could run on LPG, the fuel has not become popular so far in the absence of requisite filling stations and the fuel is not helping users save on their fuel cost.