You read it right! India is all set to get electric radio cabs. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari's brainchild will be on the roads come this May 26. The pilot project will start with 200 e-taxis starting from Gadkari's hometown, Nagpur. The date, coincidentally, is when the Modi government came into power at the centre two years ago.
While Mahindra & Mahindra has supplied the electric vehicles to the Nagpur government, most likely the e-Verito and the e20 Plus, the infrastructure for charging these vehicles will be provided by the local governing body. The Union government is already said to be working on the technicalities of the regulations. Trial runs have already begun. But there is a catch. The taxi permit rules say that the cars should have a certain cubic capacity to be classified as taxis. In the case of four-wheelers, it is 980cc for those operating with a CNG tank and 1,400cc for the vehicles fitted with an air conditioner. The electric taxis don't fall under the "cc" category since they have electricity-generating motors instead of the conventional internal combustion engine and hence cannot be used, according to the current laws.
It is being said that Gadkari as well as the others in the transport department are working towards making amendments to these archaic rules. A few hotels around the country though already use electric vehicles in their fleet. These are used for short-distance trips and cost more than a conventional-powered cab for the customer. A few years ago, the government has introduced the FAME scheme which gave tax sops and rebates to the manufacturers if they are making and marketing an electric or hybrid car in India.
Electric vehicles are pollution free and hence the government and other bodies are pushing for them. The Indian government, like many other governments across the globe, is looking to move to complete electrification of their vehicles in a few years from now. India, in the meanwhile, is looking at full electrification till 2030. Currently, a few hybrid as well as electric cars are available in the country since the infrastructure - which again includes electric charging stations, service centres etc. - is still in a nascent stage. Mahindra, Lexus, Toyota and Honda are the few mainstream manufacturers who sell electric cars in India. Hyundai is shortly expected to join the fray with the Ioniq next year.
Note: We contacted Mahindra & Mahindra for a comment; however, the company still hasn't responded. We will update this story with their comment as and when it arrives.