India can cut its annual oil import bill by some Rs 1.2 lakh crore in the next five to seven years by switching its two-wheelers from internal combustion engine to electric, according to the NITI Aayog.
"India has over 170 million two-wheelers. If we assume that each of these vehicles uses a little more than half a litre of petrol per day or about 200 litres per year, the total amount of petrol used by such vehicles is about 34 billion litres," said the NITI Aayog's 'Zero Emission Vehicles: Towards a Policy Framework' report released on Friday.
"At Rs 70 per litre, this would cost about Rs 2.4 lakh crore. Even if we assume that 50 per cent of this is the cost of imported crude (as tax and other may be 50 per cent), one may save Rs 1.2 lakh crore worth of imported oil," it said.
The report added there was a real possibility of getting this done in the next five to seven years, but it would require a policy regime that encourages access to latest technologies and which systematically ensures that India's electric vehicle program keeps pace with the global scale.
Incidentally, minutes before releasing the report, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government will soon put in place a new stable policy regime to promote the use of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles in the country to fight climate change.
The NITI Aayog report said that India had a lot to gain by converting its internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles at the earliest.
"Its oil-import bill would considerably reduce. Internal combustion engine vehicles are a major contributor to pollution in cities and their replacement with electric vehicles will definitely improve air quality. There is a considerable possibility that we can become leaders in small and public electric vehicles," it said.
"This would however require innovations, a policy regime that encourages access to latest technologies and a concerted effort by the Indian industry to achieve global competition through acquiring the necessary scale and using cutting edge technology," it added.
Earlier, at the inauguration of the two-day 'Move: Global Mobility Summit' where the report was officially released, the Prime Minister said that in a rapidly transforming mobility paradigm, India had inherent strength and comparative advantages over other major economies.
With fewer vehicles per capita than other major economies, India does not carry much of the baggage of other economies that were built on the back of private car ownership, Modi said.
"This gives us a window of opportunity to create an all new seamless mobility ecosystem," he added.