There can be no denying that the era of electric vehicles (EVs) is well and truly upon us. With zero tailpipe emissions, EVs are a direct cure for air pollution and will also help reduce oil imports.
Achieving this will not be easy and a lot of planning and investment are needed. As per a study by the CEEW Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF), India will need an annual battery capacity of 158 GWh with an investment of $6.1 billion even if half of the battery manufacturing capacity is to be indigenous. Another big opportunity that has opened up is in charging infrastructure where the study says India would need a network of over 2.9 million public charging points by FY30, which would require an investment of up to $2.9 billion.
The CEEW report also says the market opportunity is worth nearly $206 billion with cumulative EV sales in all vehicle segments projected to jump to over 100 million units by FY30.
It is important for us to start thinking of ways to decongest our cities. Smart EVs which are connected, autonomous, and compact offer a golden opportunity here as well.
Some consumers would not want to own a vehicle outright but treat mobility as a service. Shared mobility which had taken a beating during the pandemic is also making a comeback.
Vehicles would need to evolve to capture these needs and smart EVs would facilitate that. There will be companies willing to play with the established form factor of four-door four-seater cars. What is needed is innovation both in terms of practicality and aesthetic function.
Most vehicles on the road in cities today ferry not more than one person. A futuristic smaller car may be attractive to both an office goer and families and can reduce congestion. The canvas is wide, and experiments are happening on all fronts.
Making vehicles lighter is a perennial exercise but while in combustion vehicles the benefits are incremental, in smart EVs they can be revolutionary. Innovative and futuristic smart EVs for shorter intra-city distances, day- trips, and the like would not need a bigger battery. That means less time to recharge and lower cost.
To combat climate change, governments and industries would do their part, as they must, but the larger and more immediate onus lies on every one of us. By choosing better habits, by being more disciplined and responsible, and by making our representatives answerable, a lot can yet be done in time.
Let us sort this out together.
The writer is President of the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India