EV body pushes back against allegations


NEW DELHI : The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) is pushing back against a slew of whistleblower allegations against some of its top members.

The EV industry body said it filed complaints with the police cyber cell and ministry of home affairs, claiming that a group of individuals with vested interest was trying to malign some EV makers.

Emails alleging fraudulent practices in obtaining incentives under the ministry of heavy industry’s (MHI) 10,000 crore FAME-II subsidy scheme against electric two-wheeler companies such as Hero Electric and Okinawa Autotech have triggered investigations by the government into localization efforts — a key criterion which makes an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) eligible for subsidy. MHI has suspended subsidies for the two EV makers, and investigations to unearth the extent of imported content in the vehicles on which subsidies are claimed is currently underway by committees formed by the government and its homologation agencies.

The whistleblower emails have accused several other e-two-wheeler makers, including Ampere, Benling India & Ola Electric of subsidy fraud.

“There have been a number of anonymous emails attempting to malign companies in the EV segment, as well as officials of the department of heavy industries. Please note that these individuals/groups are acting in concert and have been reported to the cyber cell, police as well as the ministry of home affairs,” SMEV said on Monday.

This follows a petition to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on EVs to examine the intent behind these allegations in the light of the benefits the FAME-II scheme has accorded to the industry.

SMEV also shot off a letter to the media detailing “anonymous campaigns” trying to get pioneering EV firms out of business by turning a formerly sympathetic regime against these companies.

“Something strange is happening in the e-mobility space. A wonderful and well-planned, and almost well-executed policy so far has been suddenly put to the test – with premeditated disaster as almost a certain outcome. How did this come to be?” SMEV said in the unsigned letter. “Normally, such anonymous campaigns (referring to whistleblower emails sent to the government) should not have rattled anyone. But strangely, the startups started progressively being cold-shouldered, and subsidy allocation was withheld.”

“Clearly, this was not a campaign by some wet behind-the-ears do-gooder… it was a cabal acting in concert with some special interest groups because, one by one, the insinuations started piling up against the startups. These are new players without the deep pockets of fuel-based scooter companies. They will collapse without subsidies. So an unusual situation has been created, where companies serving the government’s policy by starting the e-scooter revolution are being edged out of the market by an anti-e-mobility policy group.”

People in the know said Okinawa Autotech and Hero Electric are looking to approach the court to claim FAME-II subsidies which were passed on to the customers but were not reimbursed. SMEV said approximately 1,000 crore in subsidy backlog had not been paid to the industry.

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