With the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, the discussion about future mobility and transport concepts has regained momentum. Especially in India, where all of the world’s fastest-growing cities are expected to be located by the end of the decade, the question is how the 800 million people who are forecasted to live in cities will get around in the face of ever-increasing urban pollution.
Germany’s long automotive history and India’s drive to strengthen its automotive industry to address some of the pressing challenges in urban transportation offer the potential for joint business opportunities in e-mobility. Both governments have set clear roadmaps for e-mobility adoption. In 2010, Germany launched the National Platform for Electromobility to deploy one million electric vehicles by 2020. The platform was tasked with driving the National Electromobility Development Plan. In 2016, a bonus program was introduced to encourage German citizens to purchase e-vehicles. The market share of e-vehicles was 22% in October/November 2020. On the Indian side, the National Electric Mobility Mission 2020 was launched in 2012, providing a major policy boost to the electric mobility industry. This was followed by other programs and policies in the coming years, mainly focused on promoting domestic production. However, to build a robust e-mobility sector, India needs to make progress on several levels. Smart vehicles depend on connected services, which in turn are vulnerable to cyberattacks from multiple sources. Sunjay Kapur, chairman of SONA-COMSTAR and president of ACMA says, “The cybersecurity challenge presents a multitude of opportunities for automotive suppliers as they can work with OEMs and service providers to develop products that support secure processing of data and create secure networks, gateways and interfaces.”
Indo-German cooperation in the field of sustainable transport and green mobility has a long tradition. Germany provides not only financial but also technical assistance to advance India’s mission to become a “Clean and Green India.” For example, from 2017 to 2021, GIZ partnered with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to implement the Integrated Sustainable Urban Transport Systems for Smart Cities (SMART-SUT) project, which aims to improve the planning and implementation of sustainable urban transport systems in selected Indian cities. To further strengthen this mission, the Indo-German Green Urban Mobility Partnership (GUMP) was officially launched in 2020. One billion euros over five years has been pledged by the German side for the implementation of relevant projects as part of technical and financial cooperation to expand public transport in India. Another initiative is the partnership established in 2017 between the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) and the Automotive Industry Association. The aim of the partnership is to strengthen exchanges between automotive industry players and provide assistance to VDA member companies in accessing the market. As part of the partnership, conferences, workshops and joint studies are being held to promote intensive dialog on future topics in the industry, such as green and e-mobility.
Startups can play an important role in advancing Germany and India’s mission for greener, cleaner transportation. Indian EV startups alone received $601 million in funding in 2014-19. One of the German success stories that recognized India’s e-mobility potential early on is the startup Adaptive City Mobility (ACM). The startup has developed a lightweight and efficient vehicle from the ground up that can be used in emerging markets where there is no adequate charging infrastructure. ACM has partnered with Indian fleet operators and companies and had a local partner early on to support the startup’s expansion into the Indian market. But other solutions are also emerging that will play an important role in the development of India’s mobility sector. German start-up Nüwiel has developed an electric bicycle trailer for commercial use to bridge the last mile in e-commerce, which can either be attached to bicycles or used as a hand cart in pedestrian areas. With an eye on the product’s potential for emerging markets, the trailer system was designed to be more forgiving in certain road conditions and has full suspension.
Promoting joint business opportunities in the field of electromobility will support both countries’ efforts to achieve cleaner and greener transport and ultimately promote cooperation between Germany and India.