PMC ramps up infra to match rising sales of EVs
Ather and Revolt have set up at least 15 charging stations across the city.
Aayush Pandey | A rapid increase in the sales of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in the city since the Maharashtra Electronic Vehicle Policy was launched in July 2021 has also led to the city administration ramping up the necessary infrastructure. Under the supervision of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Ather and Revolt, two of the major EV manufacturing companies, have set up at least 15 charging stations across the city, especially for electric two-wheelers. While the Regional Transport Office (RTO) officials said that over 3 lakh EVs have been registered in Maharashtra by the end of 2021, the EV dealerships in Pune have also claimed a rise in sales after the EV Policy was launched.
Reports have stated that there has been a 157 percent jump in EV registrations in Maharashtra since the Electronic Vehicle Policy was launched in July 2021. “The sales range from 250-300 units per month in Pune alone due to the subsidies. The Rs 24,500 state subsidy along with the exemption of road tax under the policy on the vehicle that would otherwise cost between Rs 1.80-2 lakhs has led to the tripling of the sales since last year,” said Darshan Ingle, Product Specialist, Ather Pune.
Ather sells two variants of electric two-wheelers in the country. “The sales can go even higher. Due to the shortage of semiconductor chip-sets, the production of EVs is not as fast as sales. Otherwise, with the advance bookings that we’re receiving, we can definitely sell upto 600 units a month. Customer visits are increasing day by day, sometimes all our staff is occupied with the test drive or walkthroughs of the product,” Ingle added.
RTO data shows that there were 10,417 registered EVs in Pune and 7,139 in Pimpri-Chinchwad as of December 31st, 2021. PMC plans to rent 38 electric vehicles, with drivers, for eight years at the cost of ₹23.28 crore. These vehicles will be used by office bearers and administration.
While the PMC is encouraging the use of EVs, setting up and maintaining the charging points in the city in correspondence to the accelerating sales is going to be a challenge. The electric two-wheelers require three-four hours of charging to run about 85 km. Ather and Revolt have been putting up charging stations on their own at some prime locations in the city. The Electrical Department at PMC is supervising the project.
“The project is being implemented on a revenue-sharing basis. PMC gives the space for private firms to set up the stations, while the companies make arrangements to set up the infrastructure," Shriniwas Kandul, Head of PMC’s Electrical Department.
Kandul added, “Income from the stations will be divided. A part of the revenue will be shared with PMC as rent and other charges. Private contractors have been hired for the construction, which will be starting shortly. The discussion for sustainable power sources such as solar panels is ongoing.”
EV charging station in Erandwane, Pune. Credit - Aayush Pandey
On visiting, Indie Journal found that one of the charging stations by Ather in the city, at Kalinga restro bar in Erandwane, was not functional. “The charging point has not been working for two weeks but we’ve filed a complaint with Ather and they have assured us that they will be sending someone for repairs in this week’s time,” Vinay Pandey, Manager at Kalinga said.
He added, “We were approached by Ather about six months ago if we were willing to put up a charging station in our parking space. We were told that this is among the key locations. We provided them with a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) and gave them a thumbs up.”
Ingle further said, “Right now there are 15 charging points in Pune in Kondhwa, Bhandarkar Road, FC Road, Erandwane, Paud Road and a few in Pimpri as well. We lack manpower for some regions. but it’s only a matter of time and any problem the standalone stations such as the one in Erandwane face will soon be rectified.”
To promote the sales and use of EVs further, the dealers are also making interesting tie-ups. “Sales have been very progressive since the dust settled for the second wave of Covid last year. We have also closed contracts with some e-commerce companies like Domino’s,” said Soham from the sales team at Revolt.
Several Domino's outlets in Maharashtra are now providing EVs to their delivery partners. “We incorporated EV system for our deliveries about five months ago. There are around 4,000 delivery vehicles in Western Maharashtra among those 500 are electric. Refueling is much more economic, we were able to save more with reduced petrol usage and with a charging point at the offices a lot of time is saved that would be wasted in queues of the petrol pumps. Although on the downside, the build of an electric bike is not as strong and sturdy as other petrol bikes, it also makes our riders be more careful while riding them,” Titave claimed.
Most EVs also have GPS set up in their displays, which has been lauded by many delivery partners. “Moreover, switching to an electric bike also reduces refueling charges. The earlier models were already popular among students because of their lower prices. The subsidy was like an added bonus," Soham added.