Is the future “Electric Vehicles”

Is the future “Electric Vehicles”

Recently there has been a lot of hype with regards to Electric Vehicles and Indian government is pushing towards it. India imports 80% of the Oil requirement and import bills have been $70 Billion (2016-2017) and estimated to raise to $86 Billion (2017-2018). It seems very imperative for Indian government to reduce the dependency on Oil which will help in improving the foreign reserves as well strengthen the economy.

India as a country is hugely dependent on Thermal Power and almost 85% electricity is produced by the use of Coal. There has been push for use of renewable resources like Solar, Wind and Hydro which constitutes around 10% of total power generation.  As per the Wikipedia page entry  India has an advantage with about 300 clear and sunny days in a year, the calculated solar energy incidence on India’s land area is about 5000 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year (or 5 EWh/yr).The solar energy available in a single year exceeds the possible energy output of all of the fossil fuel energy reserves in India. If India can improve the solar infrastructure and electricity produced is off the renewable resources then going electric makes perfect sense.

Here is use case that are seen on roads in northern India. Indian auto rickshaws have been diesel operated for a long time. Today there has been products in the market that are not up to the mark and mostly are assembled vehicles based on Chinese off-the-shelf parts. They look similar to the “Jugaad” which became famous for frugal innovation of India. These battery powered rickshaws uses 4, 12V lead acid battery packs of 120Ah that takes 8-10 hours to charge and   gives around 60-70 KM mileage with an average speed of 30kmph. These electric vehicles are about 1-1.5 lakhs cheaper than diesel counterparts. Since many of these e-rickshaw owner charge these at their home currently, hence the operating cost also tends to be cheaper. The manufacturer warranty on new vehicle is provided for 6 months.

Side View of the Vehicle
“Jugaad” type  look of the vehicle

This vehicle isn’t a direct replacement of the diesel vehicle but if there is one that reduces the time to charge, has a better range and speed, government doesn’t have to encourage a lot  for going electric as it will make sense.

Few things that government will have to push for

  • Public super charging infrastructure
  • Battery swap technology
  • Improvement in battery tech like Li-Ion
  • Cell manufacturing in India

There are bunch of startups that have come up developing scooters, bikes and rickshaws. There are lot of incumbents who are also trying their hands developing electric vehicles. Hopefully with all this there is going to be a product in market that rivals gasoline powered vehicles and with rise in renewable resources using electricity would make total sense.

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