"The proposed National Automotive Board, which is being finalized by the Department of Heavy Industry, is likely to be cleared by the Cabinet in a month," said an official of the Union government, who declined to be identified as he was providing background information.
Last March, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to set up a National Mission for Electric Mobility that will promote electric mobility and manufacturing of electric vehicles in India. The mission is intended to spur greater adoption of electric mobility and manufacture of electric vehicles, including a full range of hybrid vehicles.
To take this mission forward, the National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) has been set up with the ministers of all stakeholder ministries and leaders from the auto industry, academia and research institutes as members.
The NCEM will be the apex body in India for making recommendations concerning electric vehicles and their infrastructure.
The NCEM has finalized a national policy for electric vehicles, which currently is under consideration by the government, which has expressed the intention to have the final policy in place by year's end.
The Cabinet has also approved the creation of a National Board for Electric Mobility (NBEM) by the Department of Heavy Industry. The 25-member Board will include the heads of relevant ministries with representation from industry and academia.
When the National Automotive Board is formed, it will act as technical adviser and secretariat for both the NCEM and the NBEM.
This structure is supposed to establish a common platform for all key stakeholders, thereby helping achieve greater synergy, setting common priorities, vision and objectives. It is also intended to lead to a high level of ownership of electric vehicles, the Ministry of Heavy Industry said in a statement.
The transportation sector accounts for about one-third of India's total crude oil consumption and road transport accounts for around 80 percent of this total, says the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, SIAM.
The auto makers understand that a greater adoption of advanced technologies, including battery-powered EVs, hybrids and plug-in hybrids, can contribute to enhanced fuel security and sustainable mobility for India.
But India's electric vehicle industry is beset with challenges, including high cost of vehicles, inappropriate battery technology, lack of infrastructure, consumer mindset and inadequate government support.
In an attempt to surmount these challenges, SIAM commissioned consulting firm Booz and Company to conduct a study on hybrids and electric vehicles to provide a fact-based policy framework to the NBEM and NCEM for the National Hybrid/Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.
Soon, the NBEM is expected to finalize its recommendations for setting the 2020 National Mission targets and the various interventions, investments, policies, subsidies, incentives and projects that will be required to develop the program.
Another study, conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. and published in August, estimated the potential of the Indian market at four percent of the annual car sales in the country - about 100,000 vehicles.
The Deloitte study found that the Indian driver does not want to pay a premium for an electric vehicle. Drivers surveyed said they would shift to an electric vehicle only if the price of petrol reached Rs 85 (US$1.72) a liter and would not consider an electric vehicle if petrol-powered vehicles got 32 km/liter (75 miles per gallon) of fuel.
The study found that if they do buy electric vehicles, Indian drivers want a charge time of less than two hours, prefer charging at home and want a range of 320 km (198 miles) per charge.