Co-Author Credits : Aseem Goyal
Tesla Model 3 in Midnight Silver Metallic
Photo by Dario / Unsplash

Electric Cars are becoming a reality sooner than later. They’ll soon  be seen on the roads near you, and that will spell the beginning of the  end for the internal combustion engine (ICE).

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are undoubtedly the next big things that are  going to change the face of the automobile industry. Almost all the  major car auto manufacturers have already hopped onto the bandwagon as  can be inferred from their recent wave of announcements prioritizing  xEVs. This in fact, is a very welcome trend, as EVs have multifarious  advantages over ICE vehicles (internal combustion engine vehicles, or in  other words, the regular vehicles that run on petrol or diesel). The greatest benefit is of course, in terms of the environment. The Paris  Climate Summit has re-emphasised the looming threat of Global warming,  and almost all the countries are working towards measures to reduce  pollution drastically. At this juncture, EVs, with the promise of being  environment-friendly, seem like a smart choice to most countries of the  world.

Nevertheless, the high initial acquisition cost for EVs, coupled with  the lack of widely available charging infrastructure, has meant that  ICE vehicles still dominate the roads. However, with the recent  technical innovations and a resurgence in interest, the global  automotive landscape is rapidly undergoing a paradigm shift: EVs are expected to be more efficient than ICEs in the near future. They are  also expected to be more cost-effective than ICEs with the Bloomberg  report estimating year 2025 as the inflection point when xEvs will go  cheaper than ICEs . As for the charging infrastructure, governments all  over the world, in partnership with industry leaders like Tesla, are  putting in place appropriate measures to remedy the situation.

India is one of the forerunners among the proponents of this  technology. Being one of the most polluted countries of the world, (Ten  Indian cities are among the 25 most polluted cities of the world), the  Indian government has acknowledged the need for change. Several key  policy initiatives were launched viz. National Electric Mobility Mission  Plan with a target to put 6- 7 million xEVs on road by 2020 with total incentives of USD 7-8 billion for promoting xEV infra and R&D  initiatives over the 2 year period i.e. Fy 2015-16 & FY 2016-17  commencing from 1stn April 2015. Recently in keeping with the  recommendations from the country’s think tank “Niti Aayog” the scheme  was further extended uptill 31st March 2018 and the roadmap for FAME-II is also under progress. Under this scheme, the government allocated a  budget of USD 123 million (FY 15-17) and plans to lay stress primarily  on the demand side incentives for buyers, charging infra and technology  platform.

Due to these reforms, Indian companies like Mahindra are increasingly  turning towards EVs. The consequent increase in the demand for Lithium -  Ion batteries will in turn, reduces its cost of production via the  economies of scale.  Moreover, this manufacturing niche has seen several  new players entering the fray.  All these changes make it highly  probable that the next 2 decades will see EVs gradually come to dominate  the Indian roads. This means that the transport infrastructure urgently needs to test and adopt the appropriate technology to support xEVs.

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Infrastructure always comes before innovation. Examples abound:   telecommunication infrastructure has to be there for mass adoption of  Internet, Internet had to exist for web services to become popular, 3G  telecom towers are required for rapid adoption of smartphones. The case  is similar when talking about xEV popularity. Inevitably the next step  in this regard, would be a good charging infrastructure across the  country. In other words, just like petrol or gas stations, we need  charging points across the country for electric vehicles. This would not  only make the travel anxiety free, but would also contribute in a large  way to popularize electric vehicles, which in turn contributes to  climate change mitigation.

There is no doubt that the future of the automobile industry belongs  to the EVs. In such a scenario, the question is how do we adapt  ourselves to such a phenomenon? How do we contribute to this step  towards a less-polluted India? As things stand today, the commonly  available EVs can be very well suited for intra city transport. In the  absence of a charging infra, hybrid vehicles can be preferred over the  standard ICEs and charging points can be setup in homes and office  parkings or similar. As per an estimate, the typical charging station in  USA costs an average of 700$. As the number of EVs and hybrids  increase, it will start making sense for city businesses to start  setting up common charging station as well. It will not be long before  you can take your car out for the whole day without needing a drop of  petrol or diesel! Then truly our buildings, cities and the country will  have taken a big leap on the path to a greener, cleaner, healthier  future.