Electric vehicles are all the rage nowadays; everyone’s talking about them, you can see them on the streets and more people than ever are thinking about purchasing one or are actively in the process of purchasing one. Why? What’s the deal with these trending and upcoming EVs? To understand this, there’s a few important points you need to consider.
Fossil fuels are running out
Petroleum takes millions of years to form so eventually it’s going to run out and become non-replenishable. Oil, natural gas and petroleum products are integral elements in the lifestyles of pretty much all households in the world so you can imagine the speed at which we humans are using up this finite resource. Automobiles are among the largest contributors of petroleum usage since IC (Internal Combustion) engines require petroleum products to run. This very resource is now in scarce quantities and depleting rapidly therefore the implementation of an alternative fuel to replace petroleum has been put on high priority; so far electricity being a renewable resource is looking like one of the best options.
Air quality is taking a serious hit
Air pollution is becoming a serious issue and emissions from vehicle engines are among the worst culprits. For some context, Delhi is currently the world’s fifth most polluted city with an AQI (Air Quality Index) of 169. There have even been more than a few instances of children being sent home from school as well as the schools themselves being temporarily shut down purely because the air pollution was just too much. Electric vehicles in comparison do not produce any harmful emissions whatsoever and hence are much friendlier to the environment. However one important thing to keep in mind is that electricity is only as clean as its source. Currently most electricity is being produced by fossil fuels which produces heaps of air pollution and therefore to a certain extent nullifies the effect of electric vehicles being pollution free. Solar power, wind power and other renewable clean sources of electricity production are gaining rapid traction though and should be the dominant electricity producers fairly soon which will result in a totally clean and environment friendly electricity production and usage cycle.
Fuel prices are skyrocketing
Petroleum hasn’t run out just yet, in fact estimates say that we have at least a few more decades till human usage bleeds the earth’s crust totally dry of these resources. Till then however, there’s a more immediate problem that everyone is already starting to experience on a more personal level; fuel prices. The average price of petrol has nearly doubled in the past 6 years and is now around Rs.110/litre (Pune price). Therefore this is becoming an increased concern to more and more people day by day since fueling their vehicles for regular commute is a necessary expense. In comparison electricity is extremely cheap at around 4.6 to 6.7 rupees per unit. For example to travel 100km on a Honda Activa you would have to spend 200 rupees on petrol whereas to go the same distance on a Bajaj Chetak EV, you’ll only need to spend Rs.20 on electricity.
Electric vehicles are now better than they’ve ever been
A lot of skepticism involved in buying an electric vehicle till now has been because of people thinking that as an outright package, EVs simply aren’t as good as their IC engine counterparts and till recently that’s been pretty much true. Now however mainstream manufacturers like Tata and Bajaj as well as promising new startups such as Ather and Ultraviolette are investing more than ever in EV development and EV infrastructure because of increasing need for a fossil fuel substitute. So now EVs have better range and better performance than ever before and charging infrastructure is also being set up at a good pace. Everything is looking quite promising.
Electric vehicles are getting more affordable
The initial surge of EVs in the market was met up with a lot of enthusiasm from people but only a fraction of the interested people actually bought one and that’s because of the exorbitant initial cost of acquiring an electric vehicle. Battery tech is expensive and development of these all new powertrains is expensive too and that resulted in mainstream EVs costing a substantial amount more than mainstream ICE vehicles. This initial expense was so high that it just didn’t make sense for a vast majority of the population to spend the extra amount. Now though a lot of EVs are backed by government subsidies and are significantly more affordable than before. For example, the Ather 450X electric scooter which costed close to 1.7 lakh rupees before subsidies kicked in has since received close to a Rs.50,000 price drop due to government initiated subsidies.
The great thing about EV startups which we’re starting to see pop up around us is that a lot of them are Indian companies with headquarters, R&D facilities and manufacturing plants all based in India. Some of these are outsourcing components from other countries but a vast majority of operations are held in India itself. Upcoming companies like Ather, Revolt, Ola, Simple and Ultraviolette are all Indian based and of course buying from Indian brands is great for the country’s economy and some of these even have plans to export their vehicles which will boost the economy even further.
So this is a brief summary of the current EV scene in India. There are a lot more technical aspects to consider before purchasing one of these which I’ll cover in a separate article but for now these 6 points are why electric vehicles are all the hype lately and why switching to electric is looking like a more plausible option than ever.