Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

[op-ed snap] Why we need to look beyond the ‘electric’ smokescreen


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : E-vehicles : an analysis


The obsession with electric mobility makes it look as if it is the only solution for India’s transportation problems.

What the government must do instead

  1. Bringing down the fuel import bill
  2. Bringing down air pollution

Do not push EVs

  1. We still cannot ensure a 24×7 electricity supply to hospitals. All our villages still do not have a reliable electricity supply.
  2. Close to 80% of the electricity generated is from coal and gas. Yet another 50,000MW of coal-fired power plants are being set up under the National Electricity Plan.
  3. More than 20% of all the electricity generated goes into “transmission and distribution losses”.
  4. Due to inadequate and irregular last-mile supply, close to 15 million tonnes of diesel is used by local generators to produce 80 billion KWh of electricity. 
  5. Close to $2 billion worth of battery storage capacity is imported every year.
  6. Most independent power plants operate at 12-15% below their declared capacity as they over-invoice plant costs. 
  7. There will be immense pressure on the power grid that is not yet fully reliable.

Other solutions available

  1. Air pollution – Construction dust, road dust, thermal power generation, diesel generators, traditional cooking fuels, stubble burning and open waste burning also contribute. Need action against each of these sources.
  2. Dependence on fossil fuels can be cut down not just by banning diesel, but by other more sane and immediate measures. Upgrade to the latest diesel-engine technology in public transport, reduce traffic congestion, ensure adequate power supply and get into diesel-blends.
  3. Ban all Bharat Stage 3 (BS3) vehicles and below. At once, close to 40% of all the 300 million vehicles on the roads will be gone. There’s no “vehicle scrappage policy”.
  4. Public transport
    1. Assure top-notch public transport in India’s top 24 cities. A multi-modal grid of trains, buses, taxis, three-wheelers and two-wheelers could achieve this.
    2. Incentivize the manufacture and purchase of public transport vehicles through lower GST and cheaper loans.
    3. Encourage greater use of public transport among citizens through redemption and loyalty programs. 
    4. Get all organizations with more than 100 employees to use bus fleets.
  5. Decongest the 60 top smart cities. They constitute almost 90% of our vehicular population and thus vehicular pollution. We need to focus on smoother traffic flow, better parking management and pedestrian movement. Close to 12% of vehicular fuel is wasted on idling and traffic snarls. 
  6. Expand the traffic police strength by four-five times in over-jammed cities.
  7. Create and mandate dedicated parking spots for shared mobility services.
  8. Create vast grids of pedestrian skywalks. Operate multi-level parking lots.

Each of these measures would show an immediate impact on vehicle-caused pollution and the use of fossil fuels.

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