Eco-friendly cars are struggling to find takers in Delhi — a city with the largest number of vehicles in the country.
So far the electric car Reva has found only 150 buyers in more than a year now.
This is despite Delhi’s Environment Department subsidizing almost one-third of the car’s cost and refunding other taxes to buyers.
In the meantime, diesel and petrol-driven personal vehicles have taken Delhi’s air-pollution levels back to where they were seven years ago when “clean fuel” Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) was introduced for public transport in the city.
“There is a subsidy to public-sector undertakings wanting to buy the car. It would help if the subsidy is extended to private companies,” said Pavan Sachdeva, general manager, Marketing, Reva India.
But why have Delhiites given the electric car a cold shoulder?
“Subsidy alone is not enough. Delhi needs a lot of public car-charging points. Without that the electric car concept will never take off,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of NGO Centre for Science and Environment’s Right to Clean Air campaign.
When CNG as a mandatory fuel for public transport was implemented seven years ago, the Supreme Court had directed that alongside converting vehicles to run on CNG, the government would also have to ensure the city has adequate number of CNG filling stations across the city.
“That helped the CNG drive. We need similar infrastructure for electric cars.”
Delhi’s Environment Secretary Dharmendra said, “If we find a lot of takers for electric vehicles, we will make the necessary infrastructure.”
By early 2010, big manufactures like Toyota, Tata, Maruti and Mahindra are launching their versions of eco-friendly vehicles ranging from Electric Hybrids to hydrogen-CNG-driven ones.