Making India EV ready: Centre plans E-highways on Golden Quadrilateral

Pushing towards electric vehicle mobility in India, the center has revealed its plans to construct an EV-ready highway on the Golden Quadrilateral, a network of highways connecting major cities, to reduce fuel consumption and vehicular emissions through the use of electric intercity public transport.

The government plans include the development of 6,000 km of these highways over the next seven years.

Facilitating the deployment of electric buses across the country, these highways will be equipped with charging infrastructure powered by green energy sources.

Most likely, the ‘Vision 2030: PM Public Transport Sewa’ will coincide with the introduction of electric buses, thereby creating an ecosystem for electric vehicles (EVs) in India.

“The development of electric highways is likely to happen simultaneously with the induction of electric buses accelerating the establishment of an ecosystem for EVs in India,” said a government official.

Discussions have been underway with stakeholders to replace 800,000 aging and environmentally harmful diesel buses with electric buses by the year 2030. This initiative includes earmarking 200,000 electric buses for state transport undertakings, 550,000 for private operators, and an additional 50,000 designated for school and employee transportation.

The envisaged construction of new e-highways is anticipated to foster the growth of charging infrastructure, thereby encouraging more people to opt for electric cars for their daily commutes. However, the sales of electric cars fell short of the targeted 100,000 units last year, with only 83,000 units being sold. This shortfall is attributed to consumers’ concerns regarding the limited range and inadequate charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) in the country. Consequently, electric vehicles are predominantly viewed as a secondary or tertiary mode of personal transport.

The Golden Quadrilateral, the longest highway network in India linking the major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai, along with various industrial, agricultural, and cultural hubs, is slated to have e-highways constructed on it. This development is expected to make a substantial contribution to the government’s endeavors to reduce logistics costs and curb emissions, aligning with the guidelines outlined in COP28.

What are electric highways?

These highways provide an energy-efficient solution by supplying electricity to moving vehicles through overhead power lines.

At Present, the world’s lengthiest e-highway, covering 109 kilometers and operational for public use is in Berlin, Germany.

India’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is looking to award contracts for the construction of new e-highways to private companies under a build, operate, and transfer (BOT) model. In addition, the government is also looking to convert existing highways into e-highways. For the same, the ministry with funding from state and central government has already commenced efforts to identify existing highways that can be converted into e-highways by establishing sufficient charging stations for electric buses to operate between cities, thereby promoting cost-effective green intercity public transportation.

In September of the previous year, Nitin Gadkari, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, conveyed the government’s keenness to pursue the development of electric highways, citing their economic feasibility. He mentioned that the power ministry might provide electricity at subsidized rates, and private investors could be involved in building electric infrastructure along specified routes. He suggested that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) could institute an electric tariff system akin to the tolls currently applicable on highways.