NAGPUR, India (Reuters) – Indian ride-hailing firm Ola’s pilot project to test a fleet of electric vehicles in the western city of 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.
Months - Program - Snag - Ola - Drivers
But nine months later, the program has hit a snag: Ola drivers, unhappy with long wait times at charging stations and high operating expenses, want to return their cars and switch to fuel-guzzling variants.
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 - Points - Locations - Nagpur - City
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.
Ola did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
Infrastructure - World - Democracy - Culture - Barrier
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...
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