ECOLOGIC: By 2030, our four wheels will be on full charge.

07th October 2017, New Indian Express: ECOLOGIC- Pavitra Sriprakash, the Chief Designer and Director of Shilpa Architects writes about envisioning a future with electricity driven four wheelers.

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By 2030, our four wheels will be on full charge.

Electric cars are trending! A simple Internet search shows many news articles within the last few months on EV (Electric Vehicles). The most recent news in this regard is General Motors’ announcement this week that they will be adding 20 new models to their lineup of electric cars in China by 2023. It comes in the wake of news that China, India, France, the UK and US (California), have all enacted policies to severely limit or ban gas and diesel engines between 2030 and 2040.

In India, the EV buzz began when the government announced early this year about the complete transition to electric by 2030. This would mean that by 2030 there would be no other type of vehicles available in the market except the ones that run on electricity with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. From a sustainability standpoint, electric cars are quieter and have no tailpipe emissions as compared to cars with internal combustion (IC) engines.

Indian cities and States are making great advances towards the vision ‘EV 2030’. Nagpur has become the first Indian city to adopt 200 electric vehicles comprising taxis, buses and three-wheelers. Karnataka, just last month adopted an electric vehicle policy that aims to promote research and development in electric mobility. Amid all this buzz, how can one expect this paradigm shift within a lifetime to affect us? Will there be an inherent carbon footprint improvement? Are we living to see a totally sustainable future of mobility?

It is important to balance the planet, people and economy to really gauge whether the solution is truly sustainable. Initial studies that compare the CO2 emission of IC engines with equivalent power generation in thermal plants shows there is little to celebrate yet. With India generating electricity primarily from coal and gas, there is not much difference at present between diesel cars and the EV in terms of emissions. In fact, in some cases the diesel car seems to be doing a bit better.

The real deal changer is in the running cost per km and lifetime maintenance, and here the EV seems to be far superior in both parameters. The monthly running charges for the diesel car is about 3.5 times more when compared to an electric car. The cost of maintenance of electric car is supposed to be a third of a gasoline car. However the initial high cost of an electric car at present nullifies these savings.

Until the mandate is in full effect and the purchase costs of electric cars come down, the true economic advantages of the electric car may not materialise. Other added features such as auto parking, single lane driving all seem to herald a driverless green future.

While we wait for all of this to become reality, let’s continue to live consciously for now. Please save gas at every opportunity – carpool, bike or walk to keep yourself and the planet healthy. And say yes to make the huge shift soon towards clean and renewable energy.