With India planning to replace a significant portion of its conventional internal combustion engine fleet by electric vehicles in the next one decade, particularly to reduce pollution and also to create jobs through manufacturing of such vehicles, China may continue to play a huge role in realisation of that dream.
Currently, China is the biggest market for electric vehicles and it also controls the supply of major chunk of the key raw materials needed for making the battery used in these vehicles.
This is particularly because electric vehicles continue to use lithium-ion batteries which consists of lithium-ion cells that use metals like lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese.
With purchase of mines in countries like Bolivia, Chile, Australia and Congo, China has emerged as a key supplier of these metals.
According to the “Global EV Outlook 2019” report brought out by International Energy Agency (IEA), the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1 million in 2018, up two million from the previous year and almost doubling the number of new electric car sales.
China remains the world’s largest electric car market, followed by Europe and the US, while Norway is the global leader in terms of electric car market share, it added.
By the end of 2018, electric two/three-wheelers on the road exceeded 300 million and the vast majority of them are in China. With sales in the tens of millions per year, the Chinese market for electric two-wheelers is hundreds of times larger than anywhere else in the world.
In 2018, more than 460,000 electric buses were on the world’s road, almost 100, 000 more than in 2017.
But these dynamics could dramatically change in the next decade due to India’s push for electric vehicles. Some automakers estimate that the demand for electric vehicles, especially in the two-wheeler segment, may surpass the demand in China.
In fact, Chinese automaker SAIC Motor Corporation Limited’s subsidiary MG Motor has been busy preparing for the launch of electric compact SUV — ZS — slated for next year.
The ZS will be one of the first locally-produced global EVs in India. However, its battery will be imported from Chinese battery manufacturer and technology company CATL. Nonetheless, depending on demand, the company may consider to assemble battery packages in India in association with CATL.
The compact SUV ZS EV will have a full-sized boot and room for five. In order to create a hype, the company plans to deploy a limited number of ZS EV in India, even before the car’s official launch.
As per plans, the company will deploy a limited number of ZS EV units for giving select customers a unique experience ahead of launch. Furthermore, the automaker’s fast-charging infrastructure at limited locations is expected to be in place by October. MG Motor India has made an investment of Rs 2,200 crore at its plant and has installed an all-new assembly line.
China’s leading electric vehicle company, Sunra, earlier this year expressed interest in setting up a factory in the country as it sees India emerging as the world’s biggest market for electric bikes in the next four to five years.
It is expected that once the proper public infrastructure for electric vehicles is in place, more and more global giants in this segment, including those from China, will make a beeline for grabbing a pie of the Indian EV market.