The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on Wednesday clarified that automobile makers could at their discretion sell electric vehicles without batteries. The batteries could be sold separately to the vehicle owner, or the owner could buy the battery from some other service provider.
The government of India sources said the rationale behind the move was to make electric vehicles more affordable as the battery cost was 30-40 percent of the total cost. But the clarification has left India’s automobile industry confused.
“With BS-VI norms, manufacturers are responsible if a vehicle picked up at random from dealerships isn’t compliant,” said Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto.
“Here a customer can buy a battery-less chetak or iqube and put anything into it. Battery life, charging time, reliability, range speed, gradeability be dammed!” he said.
Mahesh Babu, CEO of Mahindra Electric, has raised a similar concern.
“Up to the sale of the vehicle, the OEM (original equipment maker) is responsible for the safety of the vehicle. A vehicle that is tested, manufactured, and sold is an integrated vehicle and the OEM is responsible for the warranty,” he said.
“No country in the world allows registration of EV’s without battery,” he said.
“We will explain to the government that this notification has created confusion,” Babu said, adding that the move did not appear to be well thought out as the industry was not consulted.
Also, the tax rates for an electric vehicle and battery are different, adding to the confusion.
“This is a great, futuristic idea and we welcome it, but a lot of confusion has cropped up,” said Sohinder Singh Gill, Global CEO of Hero Electric and Spokesperson for Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.
“There is confusion about whether the GST on battery sold separately be 18 percent or 5 percent and whether a vehicle sold without a battery be eligible for FAME subsidy,” Gill said.
Gill sees many clarifications having to be issued before the rule can be implemented.