This World Environment Day, I was reminded of Carl Sagan’s words about our planet.
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”
Global Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown allowed the whole world to witness the man-made impact on the environment. The absence of human activity cleansed the water bodies, purified the air, and brought back natural flora and fauna.
Our planet was able to breathe once again.
What we saw is that our environment is increasingly becoming fragile, and a country like India must focus on reduction of emissions and adopt a low carbon growth path.
Much of this climate crisis in India can be attributed to an increased level of urbanization. Under the Paris agreement, India has committed to reducing emission intensity by 33-35 % of its GDP by 2030. One of the main initiatives that will help India achieve this goal of reducing emissions is a gradual shift to electric vehicles.
EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change than conventional vehicles. They are a promising step towards the reduction of the greenhouse gases that are emitted from transportation. Today, EVs are one of the most spoken about industries where maximum initiatives are being implemented by various stakeholders, including the government and corporations. EVs, if charged with clean electricity, do not emit CO2.
For a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, how will we make this transition?
3-Wheeler’s have been strong early adopters to kickstart the EV revolution in India. They currently comprise 83% of the Indian electric vehicle market. India boasts of having around 15 lakh e-rickshaws that increase with additional sales of 11,000 new ones every month. E-rickshaws are a big boon to air and noise pollution in the cities. These E-rickshaws can save up to 1000 tonnes of CO2 emissions if CNG autos are all replaced by E-rickshaws. Favorable cost of ownership, reduced CO2 emissions, government policy support and access to easy financial solutions have driven this adoption.
Going forward, I believe that India’s electrification will be driven by commercial vehicles (CVs). Commercial vehicles will be faster to adopt EVs because 60% of India’s energy demand is driven by 10% of vehicles (CVs). 100% Charging will be done on public chargers as domestic infrastructure is unstable. A concentrated market will further lead to an efficient network.
One of the biggest roadblocks to large-scale EV adoption is lagging battery technology – i.e. storing large amounts of energy in a small battery economically. Range and refueling time are two factors that continue to make ICE more lucrative than EV. We expect to see strong innovation in fast charging along with an improvement in the public charging infrastructure.
In a recent move to promote electric vehicles, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has also proposed to exempt EVs from registration fees in a draft notification. The overall price of vehicles, including scooters and motorcycles, can be considerably reduced if the proposal gets accepted. Globally, carmakers have developed plans to move their entire fleet to electric cars, but India’s automobile industry needs a push to pedal faster.
I’m often reminded of this quote by Ernest Hemingway - “The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.”
I truly believe that we must take a stand against climate change not just in India, but globally. A widespread shift towards mass adoption of EVs along with innovation in battery technology will drive this change.
The future of mobility is electric.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house