Cities cover less than 1% of the world’s surface area yet cities consume some 75% of the world’s energy. Especially the “transportation industry” is estimated to be responsible for nearly a quarter of global energy related CO2.
A study shows that more than 30 percent of the ambient air quality in the cities is because of transport sector. According US Energy Information Administration, India's transportation energy use will grow at about 5.5 percent a year – significantly higher than the world average of 1.4 percent per year, more than quadrupling the total energy use from the road transport in 2035. Likewise the per capita energy use for passenger vehicles in India is estimated to increase threefold.
Respiratory and heart problems, global warming, acid rain are a few negative impacts out of many. The health impact analysis estimates up to 49,500 deaths in 2010 and can go up to 158,500 or more in 2030 due to road transport in India. Also a rapid population expansion, hyper-urbanization, globalization and pervasive information and communication technology are the four drivers which demand us to modify our existing transportation eco-system.
Some positive changes can be seen if we move towards environment friendly methods like use of public mode of transportation, fuel-efficient vehicles, cleaner fuels like CNG and LPG, electric cars and trucks as these produce fewer emissions than their conventional counterparts. Also when the electricity comes from renewable sources, all-electric vehicles produce zero emissions to drive, by becoming the most preferable option.
In 2014, 320,000 new EVs are registered which brings the total global market up to 740,000 vehicles. US with a growth rate of 69%, is the largest consumers of the EVs followed by Japan and China. In US, total EV numbers up to 290,000 units in the country which is 39.19% of the total EVs in the world. In India, 21,000 EVs were sold in 2013-14 which is even less than 3% of the total number in the world.
Mahindra, Nissan, Chevrolet, Toyota, Tesla, Mitsubishi, BMW, Honda, are some of the automobile companies working in this direction. Mahindra Reva, an initiative by Mahindra Group, was the India’s first automatic and electric 2- door car. Being the first one to introduce this product in the Indian market, Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles Private Limited claimed many titles such as, in 2007, Reva was named one of ‘India's Coolest Companies’ by Business Today, in 2008 Frost and Sullivan Powertrain ‘Company of the Year’ award for excellent sales volume, market penetration, and customer satisfaction and in 2010, the Reva-i was crowned ‘Car of the Year’ at the Overdrive & CNBC TV 18 awards. In 2013, it was named amongst the Top 50 most innovative companies in the world by Fast Company. Recently Mahindra Group has launched a 4 door electric vehicle by the name of “E-Verito” which is again the first in the industry like Mahindra Reva.
We can say that EVs are taking a step towards cleaner future, as they are (i) Energy efficient: 60% energy conversion rate from grid to power at the wheels which is 3 times as compare to gasoline. (ii) Environmentally friendly: EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants. (iii) Performance benefits: Quiet and smooth operation, stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than ICEs. (iv) Reduce energy dependence: Electricity is a domestic energy source.
Now, Government is also planning to bring 7M Electric Vehicles on road by 2020. They will give INR 1.38L worth incentives for every car to encourage the sale under the scheme “Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME)”. For the next 5 years, the ministry has estimated that INR 14,000 crore would be required for successful implementation of the scheme. As of now, INR 795 crore has been allocated which will be utilized under Phase 1, which has been again broken down into two 1-year period: 2015-16 and 2016-17. Out of INR 795 crore budget, INR 500 crore would be utilized for giving incentives alone.
Adoption of EV’s at a large scale can solve our problem to a major extent, but it comes with challenges like (i) Image problem, (ii) Lack of charging stations, (iii) Limited driving range, (iv) Recharge time (min. 30 mins), (v) Affordable cars and (vi) Dirty power plants.
Apart from these challenges, EVs are contributing in our goal of making our environment cleaner and healthier. What do you think are the challenges of mass adoption of EVs in developing economies like India? We would love to get your comments on the same.