Electric buses in India are continuing to proliferate, albeit with the support of Government schemes like FAME II. Their growth is more or less limited to the shared mobility domain and includes a small fleet with a number of public transport undertakings spread across the country. A key factor in their operate-ability is finance. It is also linked to their ability to tap opportunities and overcome the challenges. In terms of finance, the creation of viable options is necessary. A significant funding cost is associated with the procurement of charging infrastructure and more buses. This also varies with the size of the e-buses that are being procured. Whether they are of seven-metre length and with a certain capacity, or whether they are of 12-metre length. The price of e-buses also differs from company to company, from the use of its technology and various other factors surrounding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) throughout the life of the vehicle.
With Covid-19, transport undertaking organisations are experiencing their finances being deeply impacted. There’s not much room to further increase the deficit. It is the impact on the finances of transport undertaking that is providing a real-time check on opportunities and challenges in the e-bus space. A more cautious approach is in the offering. Before undertaking new projects, it is imperative thus, that a clear vision for bus transport at national, state and city levels, backed by supplemental funding is to be chalked out. The bus system in India has not yet found a way to implement bus services in a sustainable fashion. It is very difficult to undertake large programs of electrification because the long term financing is not secure. Few important factors in terms of financing and funding are enhancing revenues in terms of Vehicle Registration Tax, Annual Vehicle Tax and fuel surcharge, rebalancing expenditures within state or city budgets and finally adjusting the fares.
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In India, the e-bus space in real-time is a mix of challenges and opportunities.
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