A LeasePlan showroom in Breukelen, Netherlands. The company says the real EV revolution in India is setting now. Image Credit: Bloomberg

New Delhi:

Dutch car lessor LeasePlan Corporation NV is targeting a fivefold increase in its fleet of electric vehicles in India, riding on the South Asian country’s ambitions to cut emissions by adopting cleaner automotive technology.

LeasePlan expects to increase its electric vehicles in India to 1,000 units by the end of the year, according to Sanjeev Prasad, managing director of the company’s Indian unit. The company, which currently has a fleet of 15,000 cars in India, anticipates battery-driven cars could comprise over 10 per cent of the new vehicles it puts on the country’s roads in the next five years.

“Even though our first EV was leased in 2004, the real EV revolution is setting in now,” Prasad said in an interview in Gurugram, near New Delhi. “India will be one of the fastest growing EV countries among the markets that we operate in, given the government’s initiative and also the fact that India is already one of the largest auto markets.”

EV sales double

Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s administration said last year that it plans to significantly increase the number of electric vehicles on India’s roads, partially in an effort to combat pollution. It followed that up with two separate orders for 10,000 electric cars each to replace petrol and diesel vehicles used by government officials. That has led to heightened interest in India’s nascent EV market, with sales estimated to have almost doubled to 2,000 units in 2017, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Cab aggregators, self-drive rental firms and delivery companies in India have started leasing EVs from LeasePlan. Of the 180 EVs the firm currently has on the road, 150 have been leased to car rental service Zoomcar India Pvt., while talks are on with another car rental Revv for more orders, Prasad said.

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“The limiting factor in India is that we don’t have many EV options,” with only two models — Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd’s e2oPlus and eVerito — to choose from at the moment, Prasad said. Lack of charging infrastructure and battery costs are among the other challenges facing the adoption of EVs in India, he said.

Lack of charging infrastructure has been one of the biggest hurdles to India’s ambitions to ensure more electric vehicles on its roads. India had only about 350 public EV chargers compared with around 57,000 petrol stations, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a July 2017 report. In contrast, China had around 215,000 charging points installed at the end of 2016, it said.