Electric vehicles are steadily gaining market share around the world, but no government has a more ambitious plan to encourage the growth than India. Recently, the nation’s Minister of Power suggested a zero down payment incentive that would make purchasing electric cars even more affordable and aid in rolling toward a nationwide goal of filling roadways with 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030. The idea is still in the works but this move could make a huge dent in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions—if done right.
India hopes to set an example of how world governments can take aggressive action against dirty fossil fuels without creating a financial hardship on citizens. “India can become the first country of its size which will run 100 percent of electric vehicles. We are trying to make this program self-financing. We don’t need one rupee support from the government. We don’t need one rupee investment from the people of India,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said at a recent event.
By waiving down payments, Goyal believes it will be easy for people to make ongoing payments on an electric car with all the money they will save by not buying gasoline. Goyal is working closely with other government leaders to evaluate the proposal in a working group led by Road Minister Nitin Gadkari. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar are also participating.
While replacing GHG-emitting cars with electric versions will cut down on carbon emissions for transportation, skeptics wonder whether the increase in demand for electricity will end up causing more emissions from the power sector. After all, coal-fired power plants in India are already a troublesome source of pollution, and emissions have been steadily growing in recent years. It’s already been reported that reaching India’s renewable energy goals—an increase from less than 12 gigawatts in 2016 to a whopping 175 GW by 2022—will be enormously expensive, so the concept of increasing demand for electricity for vehicles could put an additional strain on an already difficult uphill battle.