Delhi Government Delists Tata Nexon EV From Subsidy List

An unexpected move by the Delhi government could set off similar moves in other states, or alternatively, show up the government’s move as a hurried one, taken without due consideration. Tata Motors’ popular Nexon EV, which has been having a very good run in recent months, has got a rude shock from the Delhi government after it suspended a subsidy offered on the purchase of electric vehicles to the car which recently won the Indian Green Car of The Year award for 2021.

In a tweet, Minister Kailash Gahlot said that the government had suspended the subsidy after receiving complaints from users over “sub-standard range performance”. The suspension will be in force pending a final report of a committee that will look into the complaints received by the transport department.

In 2020, the Delhi government had notified its EV policy under which a purchase incentive of Rs 10,000 per KWh of battery capacity is provided per electric 4-wheeler and up to a maximum of Rs 150,000 to the owners of the first 1000 electric cars to be registered in Delhi after the policy was announced.

The suspension has come after users complained of far less range than the advertised and claimed range of 312 km per full charge by Tata Motors for its Nexon EVs. In its letter to Tata Motors, the government said that a user in Delhi’s Najafgarh had reported that his Nexon EV had “never provided a range more than 200 km”. Citing a single instance doesn’t seem like a good idea, as we have heard numbers ranging from 240 to 260 and even 285 kms. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the range one gets can be subject to multiple factors, be it driving quality, traffic conditions and use of features, for instance.

The letter also quoted the experience of another user. In its response, Tata Motors in a release says that the range claimed for Nexon EVs by Tata Motors was made on tests done by the Automotive Research Association of India or ARAI, the designated agency that conducts tests “under standard test conditions” for all vehicles in India.

A Tata Motors spokesperson said that “it is unfortunate to receive this order from the Delhi Transport Commission. We will continue to engage constructively to protect the interests of our customers. The Nexon EV is the only personal segment EV available in the market today that meets the stringent FAME norms. The range at single full charge (312 km) for the Nexon EV is basis the certification received from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), which is the official body that independently tests all mass-produced vehicles under standard/defined test conditions before they can be offered to customers.

“As with conventional vehicles (with IC engines), the actual range achieved in EVs is dependent on AC usage, individual driving style and the actual conditions in which the vehicle is driven. The range achievement is also a function of familiarity with the new technology, and customers report improvements upwards of 10 percent within 4-6 weeks of familiarity. We have been receiving several positive testimonials from our customers and are encouraged to see them exploring new places with Nexon EV and sharing their experiences. We are extremely confident about the value proposition of the Nexon EV, which since its launch a year ago, has consistently grown in popularity to become India’s largest selling EV with thousands of families enjoying the pleasure of owning and driving it.”

This move by the Delhi government can be a blessing if the committee does come up with a benchmark to accept a variance in the real-life and test-conditions range of EVs in India. Even for ICE vehicles, the wide gap between claimed mileage figures and under real-life situations is so wide that it has spawned many a career of auto vloggers on social media reviewing just the mileage claims of vehicles. And that was the case with Nexon too.

Many reviews and videos showed how to extract the last bit of juice from Nexon’s batteries and also the best way to get the range as promised, but it appears that the complaints show that EV manufacturers should either go with real-life range claims or ARAI should tweak their testing methodology to not take buyers and users of EVs for a ride (or lack of) when certifying the range of electric vehicles.

Also, with so little to choose from when buying electric cars in India, perhaps the right time for EV manufacturers to get going on running information campaigns on getting the best range out of their models and perhaps even a day’s training for drivers of EV vehicles.

[Updated on March 3, 2021]

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