H.S. Panno, an independent contractor living in a spacious two-story penthouse in New Delhi, had his doubts when he bought his first electric car in September.
So far, he’s pleased with his savings on gas and maintenance, which are down by more than half, but disappointed with the practical limitations of driving his Nexon XZ+. For starters, he says he’s only getting 200 kilometers (125 miles) per charge, not the promised range of 315 kilometers (195 miles). And he can’t drive the car outside the city because of a lack of charging stations.
EVs are a rarity in India, where more than 300 million vehicles, most of them scooters and three-wheel motorized rickshaws, jam the highways. The country is now making an ambitious push for what it calls “electric mobility,” to reduce smog. But the effort is plagued with technological and logistical hurdles, even for those relatively simple vehicles.
The EV passenger car segment may be potentially huge but for now it is a niche within a niche: In March, 25,640 electric vehicles were sold across the country, of which 90% were two and three-wheelers. The total 400,000 EVs registered in India in 2019 accounted for less than 0.2% of all vehicles.
Panno got a $1,770 rebate as a government incentive for buying his Nexon XZ+, Indian automaker Tata’s mid-range electric vehicle model. It cost $22,740, about twice the price of the company’s most popular gas-fueled models.