Vastavam web: Indian ride-hailing firm Ola’s pilot project to test a fleet of electric vehicles in Nagpur was expected to herald a coming revolution in the Indian autos industry. So far, though, it has only exposed fractures in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitions to make all new vehicles electric by 2030.With an initial investment of about $8 million, Softbank-backed Ola launched the project last year at an event that had all the trappings of a state function, including a big gathering and flagging off by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Out of 20 Ola electric car drivers interviewed by Reuters in Nagpur, more than a dozen said they have either returned their electric taxis and switched to diesel, or are planning to do so.Ola had said it would make 50 charging points available across four locations in Nagpur – a city of about 2.5 million people – for its fleet of 200 electric vehicles, but on a visit to the city in late January, Reuters found only about a dozen charging points. Ola has since added 10 additional charging points but is still short of its target.
Getting infrastructure built in the world’s biggest democracy where a not-in-my-backyard culture proliferates is a barrier for a lot of businesses in India. And it is proving to be the same for charging stations – Ola was forced to close one in Nagpur last year after protests by residents angered by traffic jams caused by drivers. It took more than five months to get government clearances to begin operating another station.