(Photo by MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

Asserting that India has full potential to emerge as a global hub for electric vehicles by 2025, federal minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday asked automobile manufacturers to reduce cost and forego profit initially to capture market and fuel growth.

Once the market picks up there will not be any looking back, Road Transport and Highways and MSMEs Minister Gadkari said, promising all support to manufacturers in the initiative aimed at cutting India’s huge import costs of crude and arresting pollution.

The minister said he is scheduled to make an hour-long presentation on EVs before the Chief Justice of India post-Diwali. He was addressing a virtual “Electric Mobility Conference 2020 – The Spark Revolution in India” by industry body Ficci.

“E-mobility is going to be the future mode of economic transport…There is economic viability for manufacturers, but presently they are not in a mood to reduce cost. Reducing cost may result in some losses initially, but will bring great benefits. As a marketing strategy you have to reduce the cost to get numbers,” Gadkari said.

He also said that India has the potential to become the largest EV producer in the world in the next five years. However, Indian manufacturers prefer to wait and watch and are late in participating in any global competition.

“Now is the time to harbour the ambition to become number one… the raw material is available, power rates are reducing…you have a win-win situation,” he told carmakers.

The minister admitted that significant EV-specific concerns persist like on batteries, charging, and driving range that prevent a large-scale consumer pull, but these issues being addressed rapidly.

He expressed concerns over the fact that India needs to import oil to cover over 80 per cent of its transport fuel, saying import of crude is a big economic problem.

“Air pollution is a million-dollar problem. We need to find an integrated approach to it. Transport sector alone was responsible for 18 per cent energy demand and 70 per cent of it was met through imported crude oil,” Gadkari said.

Terming EVs as a solution to it, he said 22 new green expressways are planned, including Bangalore-Chennai – which will be completed in three years.

He said the government is committed to provide all help to EV makers and 100 per cent GST subsidy has already been offered.

India has to develop a particular set of capabilities which are conducive to sustainable mobility for accelerated adoption of EVs, the minister said, adding the emphasis of the EV Policy is to establish technological and manufacturing leadership in the economy segment of the market.