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Top industry honchos say EV policy ‘ill-timed.’ Here’s what Niti Aayog has to say

Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar retorted by saying that it was a well-though-out policy to capitalise on the ‘sunrise industry’
New Delhi: Just days after top manufacturers in the automobile industry came out to oppose the Niti Aayog’s proposal to transition to electric vehicles by 2025 as being “unrealistic” and “ill-timed,” the think-tank’s Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar retorted by saying that it was a well-though-out policy to capitalise on the “sunrise industry.” He urged two-wheeler makers to work with Niti Aayog rather than paint an incorrect picture. “We are trying to create a policy that will attract resources and investment. How does one attract investment without declaring a policy? Work with us rather than trying to paint us wrong and saying that the policy has not been thought through,” Kumar said.

‘Policy decision based on consultations’

Responding to the allegation levelled by the industry leaders that the decision was taken without consultations, Kumar said, “We started this consultative process very actively in preparation of our mobility conference held last October. I have myself met so many industry people.” He also pointed out that the figure of Rs 70,000-80,000 crores cited by the industry as an investment to move to BS-VI compliant vehicles was primarily quoted by the four-wheeler industry. “At this point of time, we want to achieve policy clarity. Rather than going that route [BS VI], they can switch to this route [electric]. And if investments have been made, then they have five years to fully utilise these investments... Plus they can continue to export ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles,” he said.

‘A sunrise industry’

“This is a sunrise industry…If we don’t have a policy, no targets… then we are simply muddling through. As a result, there will be no domestic capacity and we will see massive imports as in the case of the electronics sector,” Kumar said. Kumar also mentioned that at the recent meeting that took place between the Aayog and the industry, there was unanimity over the fact that the transition to electric is in the national interest. While some industry players said that 2025 was too short a time-frame, they couldn’t give us an alternative time-frame either. “Some players said 2025 was too short a time-frame, but when we asked them to give a time-frame, they said they can’t give one and the market should decide. If you are the dominant player and will continue producing ICE vehicles, how will the market decide,” Kumar said.

‘Need a firm response’

Kumar said that when the industry was asked to give a road map, the industry leaders said that they need four months. “We said two weeks. We are not insisting on that. But we need a firm response. Even after recognising that the move is in the national interest, why is the industry not working with the government and instead trying to kill the policy? We are willing to engage with the industry but not at the cost of national interest,” the Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman said.