For anyone who has been closely following recent developments in India, it would be apparent that the promotion of Electric Vehicles has become a prime focus of the Government in recent weeks. And for anyone who is following the Renewable Energy and Automotive Industries in India would know of the recent award of 10,000 Electric Vehicles to Tata Motors and Mahindra, in what has been India’s coming out party to the global community with regard to its intent to transition to an all electric vehicle fleet by 2030.
While the announcement of the intended procurement of 10,000 EVs gained widespread coverage, there was a simultaneous tender which was floated by EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Ltd.) for the procurement of 4,000 chargers – which are an integral part of the Electric vehicle infrastructure that India’s leadership has envisioned for the nation.
It is understandable why the call for 10,000 EVs would receive far greater media coverage given the scale of what was possibly the single largest ever tender for such vehicles across the world, but what has been mildly confusing is how the importance of the infrastructure which is essential for the successful deployment of these vehicles, seems to have gotten lost in oblivion over the course of the past 75 days.
EESL’s website which lists all tenders under progress shows clearly the timelines planned for the procurement of these chargers which are effectively the equivalent of Fuel Stations in our existing transportation scenario. So not having chargers installed prior to having EVs hitting the road’s would perceivably derail any momentum that the Government is trying to build up by initiating a bid for such a large number of EVs.
Given this evidently simplicity, and assuming that it would be far less challenging to take a decision on the procurement of 4,000 chargers which we would presume should cost far far less than 10,000 Electric vehicles which are an estimated cost of Rs. 1200 cr to the national exchequer – the delay in the opening of the bids – which we assume must have been received by EESL in accordance with the timelines mentioned on their website – seems to leave a lot of unanswered questions.
As does the calling for a ‘Snap Bid’ to “… ensure ready availability of charging stations by next month, as vehicles from the first phase of electric vehicles tender start coming in”
“Snap bid for EV chargers initiated for faster launch of charging stations for first EV batch expected by mid-November,” Saurabh Kumar, managing director at Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), said in a tweet on Friday.
We would believe that there must have been exigent and unavoidable reasons which have necessitated the call for this ‘Snap Bid’ amongst the 14 technically qualified bidders – which has been called for 75 days after the public announcement of the tender – and 25 days after its scheduled bid opening date – leaving only 20 days for the delivery of the first phase of 125 chargers to EESL – making it extremely tight and almost impossible for these chargers to be supplied by any international bidder.
But then, planning has never been India’s strongest suit…
So let’s just hope that it is alacrity which has lead to the delay in the tendering of this critical component of India’s EV dream, because alacrity is still something which we can easily fix with time.
The sum of India’s contradictions however, is something which will possibly take far longer to reconcile.