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Future Of E-Mobility In Post Covid World
The road to amelioration can be long and irregular, but not impossible.
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On Feb 1, 2021, in her speech during the much-awaited Union Budget, Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government is seriously mulling over the burgeoning problems of air pollution and tackling it across 42 major cities and towns in India. One of the measures in the near future, would be the scrapping of old, unfit vehicles and phasing them out with the more fuel-efficient, environment-friendly vehicles. This shows that even the government is concerned about the unsustainable practices causing unwanted air pollution in cities.
2020 Amping Up EV adoption
2020 has been surprisingly a very positive year for EVs. Earlier, with the Centre’s resolution to go all-electric in terms of mobility by 2030, we had some tailwinds such as FAME I and II, with one strong headwind, the COVID-19, and the associated impacts on parts and batteries that were being sourced from China. That said, the EV segment in India, however, is well poised to spring forward and has been very responsive to the idea of going electric.
The Chicken and Egg Paradox
One of the major concerns for EV owners as well as electric Mobility as a Service (MaaS) providers operating a huge electric fleet, is the availability of charging infrastructure. In India, we are still caught up with the chicken and egg scenario where people debate on whether to have more EVs first or ample charging hubs. Now this, in a country like India, can be very tricky. To cater to the rising EV population, major cities and highways of the country need to be laced with functional fast-charging infrastructure. There is also a need of keeping enough supplementary capacity in the charging infra to cater to all modes of EVs as and when required.
Some of the recent initiatives to promote green mobility and build charging stations in the country has certainly led to increasing people’s confidence in EVs. Be it the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Power recently announcing the setting up of 69000 EV charging stations across the country, or the NHAI signing an MoU with EESL to set up EV charging infrastructure works at toll plazas and other buildings. Moreover, in 2021 the arrival of Tesla in India and every passenger vehicle brand launching their EV variants seems to be accelerating the process.
But we have a long way to go.
Electric ride-hailing the new norm!
Electric ride-hailing is slowly progressing into one of the favorable commuting forms in urban India. In the case of public transport or urban mobility, after a pivotal trial with electric cabs, some of the major companies in the ride-hailing business are also now focusing on electric buses, electric bikes, and three- and four-wheelers EVs.
The growing size and carbon footprint of the ride-hailing market is a critical opponent to India’s clean mobility ambitions. This means that these modes of transport will need to be phased out to bring in their electric counterparts.
In order to cater to the increasing uptake of EVs both private as well as shared mobility, we would need to invest more in developing infrastructure for EVs, especially fast-charging hubs, in the coming years. This can be very similar to how petrol pumps operate. Besides, office buildings, public parking spaces, shopping malls, metro stations and numerous other places can be excellent spots to help EV owners as well as electric MaaS providers from the major problem of running out of charge.
Another impetus could be from the government for easing out certain policies for EVs and shared mobility which are applicable to ICT cars currently. For instance, shared EVs should be given the exemption or a rebate in road and highway tolls for a considerable amount of time, so as to give a boost to the uptake nationally.
Zipping into the Future
The road to amelioration can be long and irregular, but not impossible. One of the prime focus should be on next-gen mobility as India is now opening up, and more willing than before, to embrace a 100% electric approach to how it commutes.
2021 can become a landmark year for the Indian EV segment.
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.