Challenges to EV Growth in India – Electric Vehicle Cost, Performance Problems - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Net Zero by Narsi is a series of brief posts by Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi), on decarbonization and climate solutions.
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 Last Updated: February 2020 by Narasimhan Santhanam

This posevnext-logo-v-smallt is a part of EV Next’s EV Perspectives.

EV Nexta division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian e-mobility sector.


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For anyone designing a growth strategy for EVs, it is important to understand the following about challenges:

  • Challenge over Time – How will the challenges trend over time? Are the challenges of a short term nature that will become insignificant in a short time (say, within a year or two)? Or are these challenges that will take a decade or more to be mitigated?
  • Alternatives – Are these challenges rigid or flexible? That is, is it possible that these challenges could be mitigated to a significant extent through the use of some alternatives?
  • Control over Challenge – Finally, what is the extent of control that the Indian government or industry has over these challenges?

Inputs on the above aspects are provided for the key challenges to EV growth.

Category Challenge Analysis


  • High Cost of EVs (mainly owing to cost of batteries)
  • Li-ion batteries cost around $250/kWh currently, needs to go down to about $100/kWh for cost parity
  • Time – Significant cost reduction (50-60%) for EV cost parity will take until about 2026·        
  • Alternatives – No viable alternative·        
  • Control – India has little control over the Li-ion battery cost as the country does not produce the batteries currently and is unlikely to be a price setter in the foreseeable future


  • Limited Range of EVs
  • Most EV ranges today are 50-75% lower per charge, compared to the range achieved for a full tank on a conventional vehicle.
  • Time – Range of Li-ion batteries needs to increase by 75-100% for EVs to be used for inter-city travel. This could take until about 2022 for non-premium EVs.
  • Alternatives – An extensive charging (or swapping) infrastructure could partially take care of the range challenge, but public vehicle charging infra in India is practically non-existent, and getting a reasonable extent of urban charging infrastructure in key cities alone could take 5 years (until 2023)·        
  • Control – While the Indian government or industry has little or no control over the technology improvements to increase range, they have reasonable control on deploying public charging or battery swapping infrastructure
  • High Charging Time for EVs
  • Normal charging could take 4-8 hours for full charge
  • Fast charging could be completed in about 1 hour in many DC fast charging points, with 80% charge being completed in 30-40 minutes.
  • Time – For a charging time of 15 minutes or less, even DC fast charging needs a decrease of about 50% in charging time – this could take until 2023 for an affordable mass market
  • DC fast chargers – It is not clear what the timelines are to considerably decrease charging times for normal charging (these currently take between 4-8 hours for full charging)·        
  • Alternatives – DC fast charging as an alternative to normal AC charging (Level 1 or 2)o   Battery swapping·        
  • Control- The government or Indian industry has little or no control over technology to bring down charging time


The following points stand out from the above table:

  • To a large extent, the challenges are technology-based, revolving around batteries and battery charging. The exception is the EV charging infrastructure, which is more of a cost and infrastructural challenge than a technology challenge.
  • Neither the technology challenges nor the infrastructural challenges can be resolved in the short term.
    • Battery technologies for faster charging and higher ranges are likely to take until 2023.
    • Li-ion batteries will take perhaps until about 2026 for enough cost reduction to make EVs reach cost parity with conventional vehicles.
    • Extensive rollout of EV charging infrastructure to cover inter-city highways and smaller cities and towns will be infeasible in the short term (2-3 years).
  • While high cost is a rigid constraint (unless one considers external incentives as an alternative), there are alternatives for low range and high charging time challenges, in the form of optimal charging infrastructure and battery swapping business models. However, both these alternatives have technical, operational or economic challenges on their own. An “optimal” combination of these alternatives will hence be needed to maximize value and minimize costs.

Some other Challenges are:

  • Power paradox – there will be demand for power but this constraint is not very serious as India’s demand for power is roughly 175 GW. While the power to be generated for charging of vehicles is still under question, any country that intends to run a large fleet of EVs will have to depend on electricity provided by a smart electricity grid
  • Power source– EV projects stand or fall on the reliability of the power supply
  • The cost of an electric bus is huge. So how are we expecting to bring changes in public transport?
  • There is no clear-cut EV policy in place
  • Lack of customer awareness
  • The government should provide strong incentives on upfront EV purchase
  • Lack of lithium deposits in the country
  • Delay in subsidies and weak EV infrastructure needs to be addressed

The number of electric and hybrid vehicles sold during 2015-16 was very small – just about 1.1% nationally of the total vehicle share and 4.1% in Delhi.

The sales in Delhi might have been spurred by the Delhi government’s Air Ambience Fund – an accumulation of pollution cess of 25 paise on every liter of diesel sold in the city. The fund is being used to subsidize electric vehicles of all categories.


Learn more on various Status & Trends in E-Mobility across:  Indian EV Prices |  Global EV Market  | Indian EV Market  | Current status of Indian EV Market  | Indian Vehicle Segments | International Startups Takeaways | Indian Startups takeaways |

evnext-logo-v-smallKnow more on how EV Next can assist your business in your strategy for the e-mobility and electric vehicles sectors, Here

Wish to know everything about India’s EV market from one place? Check out the India EV Expert Guide, an 800 page comprehensive guide to the Indian EV marketHere


 Get to know about 1000+ EV innovations from EVI2: Electric Vehicle Innovation Intelligence from EVNext


 See also the blog posts:

Comprehensive Inputs on Indian EV Ecosystem

Check out the following sections for comprehensive inputs on Indian EV ecosystem (click on each section for more details)

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About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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