New Delhi: Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), the nodal agency for procuring electric vehicles on behalf of Indian government, may once again have to defer the deadline for procurement of electric vehicles from Tata Motors Ltd and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. The reason: lack of battery charging infrastructure in the country.

A top executive at EESL said that deliveries will be received once Exicom Tele-Systems Ltd, the company that has won the tender for battery charging infrastructure starts building them. The vehicles were supposed to be delivered by 30 November and were subsequently postponed to 30 December.

The person said that the government will start taking deliveries of vehicles from Tata Motors and Mahindra in another 14 days.

“The token vehicles have been sent to us by both the companies. Currently, we are in the process of setting up charging stations and in another couple of weeks we are hopeful of starting the delivery," the EESL executive said requesting anonymity.

As part of a plan to procure 10,000 vehicles, EESL floated a tender for procuring 500 electric vehicles, which the government will use to replace the diesel and petrol run vehicles in its fleet in the next three to four years.

Tata Motors emerged as the preferred bidder but subsequently Mahindra and Mahindra also decided to match the price quoted by its Mumbai-based rival and agreed to deliver 150 of the 500 vehicles required.

Tata Motors will supply 350 units of the electric variant of its compact sedan Tigor while M&M will deliver 150 units of E-Verito (a compact sedan).

The fact that delivery of the vehicles has been delayed due to dearth of charging infrastructure is itself a testament to the fact that existence of charging infrastructure is imperative for the launch of electric vehicles and the establishment of charging stations should precede the introduction of such vehicles and not the other way round.

Automotive industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures (Siam) and automobile manufacturers have been emphasizing on this point relentlessly since the union government has started to urge vehicle manufacturers to start developing electric vehicles.

According to Mahesh Babu, chief executive of Mahindra Electric, the company is ready with its 150 vehicles for delivery to EESL and the first lot was ready for delivery on 15 November, as per the tender terms.

“We understand that EESL is still working on the full process including registration for the balance vehicles from the first batch of 50 vehicles. Post that the remaining 100 vehicles, which are ready for delivery from our side will be delivered as directed by EESL," added Babu.

According to a spokesperson of Tata Motors, the company has already handed over the first lot of the Tigor EVs to EESL and will commence regular deliveries in line with EESL’s requirements. The production ramp-up at the Sanand factory is going on according to plan.

On 30 October, EESL launched a snap bid for electric vehicle chargers initiated for faster launch of charging stations for the first batch of electric vehicles that has already been delivered.

Power solutions provider Exicom will be supplying 125 electric vehicle chargers to EESL for charging vehicles procured from Tata Motors and Mahindra.

The company will install 100 AC charging stations with a capacity of 3.3 kilowatt; the remaining 25 will be DC battery charging stations with a capacity of 15 kilowatt.

EESL also plans to conduct a second round of bidding after analysing the performance of the set of vehicles procured in the first phase.

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