EVs and the aam aadmi

by Brian de Souza , 25 Feb 2014


What a week it has been for electric vehicles! First Mahindra Reva dropped prices of the laggard e20 by offering buyers a scheme to rent out the battery – cutting ownership costs by Rs 170,000—and then Nissan signed a partnership with the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to likely introduce the Leaf as a taxi for the country, which is known for its clean air, mountaineering, trekking and its espousal of the gross national happiness or GNP.

While India took a small step, albeit in the private sector, it was for Bhutan, a giant leap. Goes to show that with political will, it is possible to make a decisive step in favour of a new technology and indeed improve the quality of lives.

Unfortunately, India does not have much to show on the EV front despite announcing a national EV mission two years ago. A few months ago, we  were told that a plan to reduce ownership costs for EVs was being worked out, and that a proposal could see the light of day by April, subject, of course, to political backing.

None of the issues that surround the automobile eco-system are a political issue though it can be argued that it does affect the aam aadmi. While the Auto Expo at Greater Noda got off to a terrific start, what never was discussed was the high and unacceptable levels of air pollution in the nation’s capital. One wonders if got anyone talking about what needs to be done.

Even as we launch better cars and commercial vehicles, it is imperative to make clean air a defining issue. Tens of thousands lose their lives to air pollution, many suffer un-quantified losses on worker productivity. The recent interim Budget slashed excise duties across the board, a cause for cheer – but not a murmur in favour of EVs. That is a real pity.  

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