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Forms Of Mobility Will Change In India

India is hugely different from China. In fact, the two should never be compared...a bumbling yet bullish democracy versus a colonialist and controlled authoritarian regime


The 3 big impacts on mobility globally will be [1] cheap, [2] converged and [3] clean. Forms of mobility will become much cheaper than today. As the paradigms of rich and poor nations will gradually but surely change [those rich today will become poor tomorrow and vice versa], the forms of mobility will shift to shared and public transport systems. The generations of tomorrow will not be interested in 'owning' forms of transport but only using them as part of everyday mobility or occasional experiences. Therefore, today's automakers will have to reformat themselves as providers of solutions rather than mere products. Or they might end up becoming vendors to those that do. Given the congestion levels today, one might see megapolises banning personal transport altogether, which will be a good thing.

Mobility will see a convergence of modes - land, water and air. Hyperloop might become a common mode of converged transport. Autonomous mobility will be hugely prevalent across closed operating complexes, routes and applications. In general, people on work will move less as AI and AR interfaces will negate the need of physical meetings and interactions. In a city like Kolkata, to move from New Town to Howrah, one will use a singular travel card to take a shared 3-wheeler to the metro station to Esplanade, hop on to a shared 2-wheeler to Babu Ghat, take the ferry across the Hooghly, hop on to a waiting cab at the Howrah station and reach the meeting destination...all using one travel card, smooth and seamless.

All the movement will be happening very clean, in terms of [a] propulsion systems, [b] recyclability of materials used in the vehicle, [c] modes of charging the vehicle and [d] places to park idling vehicles. Electricity will see a huge challenge from fossil fuels again, as they will be synthetically produced and not dug out from the earth. Oil companies will converge with power companies to form mega energy corporations and start controlling the geopolitics again - they can be big threats to mobility and peace. Governments will have to be over conscious of such possibilities and create larger global partnerships across lines of controls and 'isms' to maintain balance. Given the high use of AI and the internet for movement, cyber-controls will have to be firewalled and monitored every nano-second.  

China will see an immediate boom in electric mobility, both private and public. It will try its best control the raw materials to making the batteries and therefore control the entire business globally. Given that there is huge R&D support on electric mobility China will become a benchmark on battery technology and also a manufacturing base. Mobility is central to two key activities of the state, [1] economic development in every nook and corner of the country and [2] territorial protection / occupation / supremacy. Therefore on both fronts the state will leave no stone unturned.

Electricity generation will be ramped up, charging infrastructure will be in place in no time [both inductive and conductive] and focus will be on buses of all sizes and small cars. The world has seen what China can do with road networks and waterways. It will do the same with electric mobility.  Combination of land, water and air mobility will be used for territorial supremacy in Asia Pacific. It will be used to move people, machinery and troops to new territories as quickly as possible to establish ownership and the possibility of collateral damage.  

India is hugely different from China. In fact, the two should never be compared...a bumbling yet bullish democracy versus a colonialist and controlled authoritarian regime.

India will spend a lot of time studying and copying others, create policies that carry neither feasible focus nor laudable logic, undergo infighting between the industry and the ministry and create infrastructure for solutions well after the solutions are in place.

Yet, I do see India working out its own unique solutions, given the huge imbalances in infrastructure, per capita income, physical connectivity, education and local governance. Our solutions will lie in a 'hybrid' mobility system, with primary focus on public and shared mobility. Just like India jumped quite a few steps of the telecom ladder at one go, from fixed landlines to mobile telephony, without going through the phase of pagers but for a few months.

It will take Indian engineers, technologists, social scientists and policy makers to come together to create our own unique solution. The current levels of suspicion and scepticism that overrides the relationship between industry, policy makers, activists and judiciary have to be consciously de-scaled and only then can true progress be made. Each of them will have to come down from their individual high horses, let the dust settle and sit on the same table...a round table that has no corners or sides.

That is the first trend that has to be visibly seen and felt in India, by the millions of us citizens, for any further trends to chart out.

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. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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auto mobility

Avik Chattopadhyay

The author is an auto industry consultant and cofounder of Expereal.

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