Government to assess electronic bus cost after local auto cos voice concerns

Days after a Chinese company and its Indian partner won major tenders for e-buses, the government is considering ways to assess the exact cost of such vehicles although it is not planning to cancel the contracts, a senior official said.

This follows serious concerns raised by domestic vehicle manufacturers citing China-based BYD’s large scale of operations and access to low-cost funds and subsidies from Beijing. BYD’s joint venture with Goldstone Infratech won most of the recent tenders for supply-own-operate contracts for e-buses.

ET was the first to report on March 22 that Tata Motors and Goldstone-BYD have bagged nine of 10 contracts, leaving competitors like Mahindra & Mahindra, Eicher Motors and JBM Solaris empty-handed. The winning bids placed by the two companies were nearly 30% lower than the market price. Ashok Leyland bagged a contract for 40 e-buses in Ahmedabad.

“We are in talks with state transport undertakings. They have told us that the opex model is good for them since the corporations do not have the wherewithal to run and maintain these electric buses. We are finding the mechanism to figure out costs of the e-buses,” the official said.

Of the 10 contracts, five have been tendered on outright purchase model and the remaining on the supply-operate-maintain model. Of the five won on the operating basis, three have been won by BYD-Goldstone Infra for the supply of 230 buses in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Tata Motors has won the contract for 40 buses in Jaipur and Ashok Leyland for another 40 in Ahmedabad.

Goldstone-BYD placed bids as low as Rs 29.28 per km for a 9 metre AC bus to Bengaluru, followed by Rs 36 per km bid for a similar variant for Hyderabad. Tata Motors won a similar contract in Jaipur with Rs 70 per km bid. The Centre is evaluating the per bus cost in such cases to derive subsidy outgo, the official said.

The Department of Heavy Industries had in December 2017 sanctioned Rs 440 crore to 11 states for procurement of electric buses, electric taxis, and e-autos as a pilot project under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles scheme that offers up to 60% subsidy on procurement subject to a maximum of Rs 1crore.

Source- The Economic Times