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Electric vehicles hit the road
May, 31st 2008

Delhi is witnessing a change, slow perhaps, but nonetheless increasingly visible. Like alternative fuels, which brought a positive change in mobility, electric vehicles are now gaining greater acceptance. Compressed natural gas (CNG) changed the basic transportation in the Capital and close to 10% of private cars run on it now. Then came Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), making its mark as an easily storable and compact auto fuel used by a substantial private vehicles owners.

Now, it's electric vehicles that are slowly making waves in Delhi. They are the cheapest mode of transport. Hold your breath--two wheeler run at a highly affordable cost of 10 paise per km, while for cars the figure is around 40 paise! There's more: an added advantage is electric two wheelers don't require any registration or driving license under the current motoring policy of the government. Though electric car do need all the legal procedures followed by other vehicles.

While many may argue electric vehicles are a non-starter due to low speed and short travelling range, the government has 'stepped in' to share the burden and make them popular as an emission free transport solution to tackle rising pollution and congestion.

First it was the central government, which waived the entire excise tax and now the Delhi government has taken the lead with a series of steps to push the electric vehicle bandwagon. The central government's decision to waive 8% excise is likely to bring prices down by Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,400, if the manufacturers pass on the entire benefit to the customers.

Currently, electric vehicles are priced in the range of Rs 20,000 for low speed two wheelers to around Rs 36,000 for the high-speed models. While electric car prices start from Rs 3.28 lakh, which can now be cheaper by Rs 35,000.

UK based electric vehicle maker Ultra Motors' Indian subsidiary Ultra Motors India's director (marketing) Deba Goshal said, "It will help to make the electric vehicle viable and help the industry grow. We had been facing a pinch after the excise on petrol two wheelers was brought down to 12% from 16%, while there were no changes for the electric vehicles. The 12% difference with the petrol vehicles will make a sizeable difference and boost demand in the market."
To make these vehicles more acceptable, specially to de-congest the national capital which has the highest number of vehicles in India, electric vehicle companies are also approaching the adjoining Haryana and Uttar Pradesh state governments to extend similar benefits for all such vehicles.

The Delhi government has recently announced a gross subsidy of 29.5% (15% general, 12.5% VAT and 2% road tax and registration) for each electric vehicle, which could make the cars cheaper by a lakh and two wheelers by Rs 5,000. This has prompted the Bangalore-based Reva Electric Car Company to debut in the Capital. In fact, India is amongst the few countries in the world where an electric car is manufactured and also exported.

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