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Over the past fortnight or so, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has on at least two occasions proclaimed that the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) will fall to the level of petrol vehicles in two years. There are as many as 250 startups engaged in developing innovative technologies to address the industry’s challenges in a cost-effective way, he said. Further, moves such as the government’s plan to build 600 EV-charging stations along highways in five years, he argued, would allow for mass adoption at a scale needed for prices to fall.

While adoption is indeed on the rise, batteries and therefore EVs are still too expensive, and charging infrastructure is coming up too slowly for the rapid transformation sought by the government. Subsidies doled out from state coffers have helped achieve some of the sales numbers recorded so far. The key to EV success would be affordability on their own steam. And, for this, a focus on closing the price gap with overtaxed fossil-fuel vehicles will be of little help. What matters is cost competitiveness, the kind that makes for global success, and that’s not easy for any carmaker to achieve in an overly distorted market for vehicles.

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