A common perception is that switching to EVs will increase the import bill for India. The country’s crude oil import bill will be substituted by importing EV components and subsystems.

The subsystems include electric motors and controllers, batteries, Vehicle Control Units (VCUs), DC-DC converters and chargers. There may be some ancillary systems like power steering, power brakes, and air conditioners, which could be driven by electric power instead of hydraulic power. Most of these components are not manufactured in India today, but there is no reason to believe that they cannot be designed and manufactured here.

Electric Motor and Controllers

A two-wheeler requires an electric motor with a capacity of 500 W – 4 kW power. An auto-rickshaw motor may need up to 5 kW of power or a little more. Cars and buses would require 30 kW – 50 kW and over 100 kW motors, respectively. Designing motors and controllers for the different capacities is challenging, but if India is determined it can design and develop these motors and controllers, with comparable price and superior quality, to that of imported Chinese motors.

The same is true for DC-DC converters and chargers. Power brakes, power steering, and electric air conditioners would also require efficient motors and controllers.


[1] [aj2] The battery consists of materials [3] [aj4] used (like Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel), battery cells, and cell-to-pack manufacturing. Materials contribute to about 40 percent of the cost, cell-manufacturing to 25 percent, and cell-to-pack conversion amounts to 30 to 40 percent of the cost.

India can take a specific course of action for each component of electric vehicles to lower external dependency.

  1. India does not have the raw materials (lithium, manganese, cobalt, nickel, and graphite) required for batteries, but start-ups in India have developed technologies for recovering 90 to 95 per cent of the materials from used and discarded batteries with zero solid, liquid or gaseous effluents. India must scale its battery recycling and become the capital of recycling batteries in [5] [aj6] the world.
  2. Manufacturing cells is a capital-intensive chemical processing activity. It is complicated by the fact that developments in cell chemistry occur every twelve to eighteen months and keep driving prices down. India has some ongoing research and development in cell chemistry but, at this stage, the country may not be able to manufacture cells comparable in life and price, to cells available elsewhere. India may have to enter into joint venture agreements with multinationals to set up cell manufacturing.[7] [aj8] At the same time, the country can strengthen its research development to manufacture cells in the future.
  3. Cell-to-pack batteries involve the design and manufacture of battery packs that can work in the Indian environment. Our packs need to work at 48°C and withstand the vibrations associated with our roads. EV battery capacity deteriorates with each charge–discharge cycle, and the design should ensure that batteries are highly affordable and have the maximum life cycle. This poses an additional challenge to resolve for design and manufacturing.

Achieving all these requires planning, funding and subsidies, public-private enterprise and the volumes to offset the development and manufacturing costs. The time to act is now.[9] [aj10]