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Electric cars are still far from mass adoption, but the Indian market sure is heating up. Ola Electric plans to launch one by the “summer of 2024". Separately, Mahindra & Mahindra has unveiled plans to launch five sport-utility vehicles from end-2024 onwards. Ola’s car promises a pick-up of 0-to-100kmph in four seconds and a range of 500km on every charge. This sounds Tesla-like, which would mean premium pricing, though Ola says its EV offer basket will range from 1 lakh to 50 lakh.

All this EV action spells good news for India’s nascent market. What we need, however, are battery-powered cars that more than just our well-off can afford. Without this, a green transition of Indian streets will remain elusive. An acceleration of competition is expected to help the cause, of course. But only up to a point. Since mid-2021, the cost of lithium, a key input for power packs, has zoomed more than four times, even as China has kept its stranglehold on making EV batteries, with a nearly 80% share of global capacity. These factors could retard our efforts to cheapen EVs. The point at which they’ll match regular cars on overall cost is already seen to have grown more distant.

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