Stimulus plan for e-vehicle market to fuel Kerala's green initiatives

The Kerala government will bear a part of the interest on bank loans granted to buy electric two- and three-wheeler vehicles, the revised Budget for the financial year 2021-22 said on Friday. 

The financial stimulus announced is likely to fuel the government’s environment-friendly green transport initiatives. The Budget has earmarked Rs 15 crore for introducing 10,000 electric two-wheelers and 5,000 e-three-wheelers to the roads.

The banks’ reluctance to sanction e-two-wheeler loans have adversely affected the sale of such vehicles. Most of the 5,000-6,000 e-two-wheelers being sold on an annual average in the State are low-powered models that do not require a driving licence or registration. 

Though the central government has introduced a subsidy on e-scooters with power on a par with petrol-fuelled ones, their on-road price of around Rs 1 lakh has been preventing people from buying them without a bank loan. 

The banks are now less reluctant to sanction loans after credible brands and quality vehicles entered the market, Ravneet S Phokela, Chief Business Officer of electric vehicle maker Ather Energy told Manorama. 

The Rs 15 crore earmarked for paying interest will come to 7.5% of the Rs 200 crore loan, meaning the vehicle buyer will have to pay only 2.5% of the 10% loan interest. The remaining 7.5% would be paid by the government, which may encourage commercial banks to sanction loans for purchasing e-vehicles. 

Bringing self-help groups or other similar organized sectors into the picture will make banks more confident to loan money. The government is also trying to provide the interest on such group loans.  

The e-vehicles will be more cost-efficient than those running on petrol. Currently, a two-wheeler requires petrol worth Rs 2 for a kilometer, whereas an e-scooter will require electricity costing 10-15 paise. Such a vehicle will have a mileage of 60-70 kilometres per unit of power. 

A vehicle owner spending Rs 100 daily for petrol shells out Rs 36,500 a year, whereas an e-scooter would require to pay a maximum of Rs 7 for recharging the battery. The annual expense will be Rs 2,555. Since such vehicles have less engine parts, maintenance charge, too, will be less. 

Going by this calculation, an e-scooter owner will be saving money equivalent to the price of the vehicle in three years. 

Credit rating agency ICRA said electric-powered autorickshaws will be more profitable than its petrol or diesel counterparts. It predicted electric vehicles to comprise 30% of autorichshaw sale in 2025, whereas e-scooters will account for eight to 10% of two-wheeler sales. 

A main attraction of electric two and three-wheelers is that they do not need separate charging points. They could be charged from normal plug points. Additionally, most models have easily detachable batteries that could be carried around for recharging.

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