1.5 Why EV Adoption Is Crucial For India
Home to one of the largest automobile industries in the world, India currently contributes a major percentage of the global car sales. Public transport continues to be the primary mode of transport in tier II, tier III cities and rural regions. Given that over 1.2 Mn deaths occur in the country every year as a result of air pollution, according to a report by Greenpeace, the transition to more eco-friendly and renewable sources of energy is the need of the hour for India.
In light of the growing pollution problem, the Government of India, over the last few years, has been increasingly promoting alternative mobility solutions, chief among which are electric vehicles. Because they are powered by electricity and not fossil fuels, EVs are relatively emission-free and therefore, hold the key to India’s burgeoning air pollution issue.
Along those lines, the government unveiled the “National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020” in 2013, under which it has rolled out a slew of initiatives and programmes geared towards accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles in India. The plan, essentially, aims to deploy around 7 Mn hybrid and all-electric vehicles in the country by 2020.
Realising the potential of EVs, the Indian government has also announced plans to make the country a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030. To that end, in January 2017, the central government said that it would bear up to 60% of the research and development (R;D) cost for developing the indigenous low-cost electric technology.
National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020, essentially, aims to deploy around 7 Mn hybrid and all-electric vehicles in the country by 2020.
Having already floated two global tenders for the procurement of up to 20,000 EVs,the government, under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, is now planning to extend financial support of up to $1.3 Bn (INR 8,730 Cr) under the second phase of FAME India.
While think tank NITI Aayog has created a special task force to come up with suggestions for the Union government, in a bid to make the transition to electric vehicles more seamless, various state governments have unveiled or are in the process of launching dedicated policies on EVs.
In September 2017, for instance, Karnataka became the first Indian state to roll out its Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy. Similarly, in October, the Telangana government prepared a draft policy on electric vehicles, with a focus on benefits for EV manufacturers.
Among the other states that have rolled out – or are in the process of launching – policies on electric vehicles are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Uttar Pradesh and others. Interestingly, Gujarat, WB, UP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra clocked the highest number of EV sales during FY2016-17, according to a report by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV).
As per the findings of the study, Gujarat topped the list with sales of just over 4,330 units. WB appeared in the second place with sales of 2,846 units, followed by UP which sold a total of 2,467 electric vehicles during the said period. Rajasthan reported sales of around 2,388 EV units, while Maharashtra came in fifth with sales of 1,926 units.
“In addition, 25,000 e-vehicles were sold across India between 2016-17. The study was conducted on all electric two-wheelers and four-wheelers which were sold during 2016-2017 and are successfully running in the mentioned states,” stated the report.
In another study, ASSOCHAM and EY claimed that the electric vehicles (EV) market is expected to record double-digit growth rates with the rise in sales volume annually in India till 2020. The survey titled ‘Electric mobility in India: Leveraging collaboration and nascency’, further said that despite electric vehicles not being mainstream, stricter emission norms, reducing battery prices and increasing consumer awareness are driving EV adoption in India.
1.6 Electric Vehicles: The Future Of Mobility
Globally, automobile exhaust is one of the biggest contributing factors of pollution, especially air pollution. While the environmental impact of electric vehicles is somewhat obvious, there are other advantages to electric mobility solutions that conventional fossil fuel-powered vehicles don’t have.
Keeping that in mind, here is a rundown of the some of the major advantages and disadvantages of electric vehicles over regular petrol or diesel-fuelled cars.
Here are the key advantages Of EVs:
No Fuel, Cheaper To Maintain
Because electric cars are powered by electricity and not gasoline, it drastically reduces the monthly spendings of car owners. According to Bloomberg, the consumption of fossil fuels by automobiles currently stands at 23 Mn barrels per day. However, with the increased popularity of EVs, the global gasoline consumption in the passenger vehicle segment will drop significantly within the next five years, as per a report by the International Energy Agency.
Although the initial cost of electric cars is quite higher than that of conventional vehicles, in the long-run, it is actually cheaper to own and maintain EVs. Ergon Energy states that the electricity needed to chargean EV is, on an average, around a third of the price of petrol per kilometre, especially in developed countries.
Similarly, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) contains fewer components than a conventional petrol/diesel car, making servicing and maintenance a lot cheaper than petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.
More Eco-Friendly, Lower Carbon Footprint
Given that the number of air pollution-related deaths have been on the rise lately, switching to electric cars, especially when it comes to public transport, could potentially reduce carbon emissions, thus slowing down climate change and global warming.
In fact, electric cars are 100% emission free as they run on electrically powered engines. Consequently, they do not emit any toxic gases or smoke that could adversely affect the environment. In this count, all-electric cars – particularly the ones powered by renewable energy – are much better than hybrid cars.
However, in this regard, it should be noted that the source of electricity is also of importance in case of EVs. If the electricity is produced through environmentally-damaging means like coal power plants, which is often the case in developing countries, the environmental benefits of electric cars ultimately get negated.
Less Noise Pollution, Smoother Ride
Since they are devoid of internal combustion engines and, in general, have less number of components, electric vehicles tend to be more silent than conventional vehicles. This, in turn, helps in curbing noise pollution, especially in crowded urban areas.
As an added advantage, electric motors, being lighter, offer a smoother drive with higher acceleration over longer distances than cars running on fossil fuels.
Now, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of EVs:
Range Anxiety, Lack Of Charging Infrastructure
Despite the massive technological advancements, EV charging infrastructure remains inadequate in most parts of the world. Furthermore, most electric cars have a range that falls between 150 to 175 km on a single charge. This, inevitably, gives rise to range anxiety among car owners.
In the absence of charging points, especially during low-distance drives, there is the risk of being stranded, which albeit can be avoided through battery swapping. However, for widespread adoption of EVs, governments around the world need to be more proactive in building a robust and well-connected charging infrastructure.
Long Charging Times
As mentioned above, the charging process of EVs can take anywhere from 30 minutes (in case of fast charging) up to 24 hours, depending on the capacity of the battery and motors. Most, however, take around four to six hours to be fully charged, which is several times longer than the time it takes to refuel a petrol/diesel car.
Lower Battery Life, High Battery Costs
The batteries currently used in electric vehicles have a lifespan of only around three to 10 years, depending on the make and model. The lower battery life often serves as a hindrance that affects the performance of electric cars. The higher costs of batteries, which are caused by the insufficient supply of raw materials, add to this problem.