Sustainable transportation initiatives: How the Indian automobile industry is evolving

India is preparing a road map to ensure that only electric vehicles will be produced and sold in the country by 2030. The shift has started, with the government pushing too. 2030 is still far away; the green technology initiatives by automobile giants and the government are full of challenges.

May 02nd 2018

Beijing and New Delhi made headlines in the past as both cities were dealing with smog issues seriously injurious to the health of its citizens. In order to tackle the climate change issue, on 12th December, 2015, 195 countries including India signed the Paris climate agreement which aimed to prevent an increase in global average temperature.

Consequently, China started pushing hard to develop electric vehicles. The Indian government also started following China’s footsteps but with not much enthusiasm. Shifting to electric cars will reduce India’s dependency on oil and cost of import.

As of 2018, India ranks 178 out of 180 countries in Environmental Performance Index as far as air quality is concerned. However, NITI Ayog is preparing a road map to ensure that only electric vehicles will be produced and sold in the country by 2030.

The shift has started, with the government pushing too

While 2030 is still far away, the good news is that automobile giants like Mahindra and TATA have already started producing electric cars. Ashok Leyland also launched its electric bus in 2016. Last year, Goldstone Infratech supplied Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation with twenty-five electric buses.

Apart from the automobile giants, a logistics group like the Bangalore-based Baghirathi Travel Solutions became the first company in the country to launch electric sedans as a taxi fleet.

The Government has also started Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme which provides incentives for purchasing electric vehicles. In addition to this, on 31st March 2017, the government announced that the entire rail network in the country will be electrified by 2022.

India’s first hyperloop project has also been flagged off. The hyperloop is a mode of passenger transportation whose design was released by a joint team from Tesla and Space X. It too operates on electricity and uses a semi- vacuum that helps to significantly reduce air-friction and drag.

Emission norms get more rigorous

Last year, the Supreme Court of India banned the sale and registration of Bharat Stage 3 emission norm-compliant vehicles. It asked the companies to move their emission standards from Euro 4 to Euro 6, skipping Euro 5, some four years ahead of schedule. BS VI-compliant diesel vehicles will have to reduce nitrogen oxide emission by 68 per cent and particulate matter emission by five times compared to the current BS IV standards.

However, the road ahead won’t be an easy ride.

Challenges abound

The green technology initiatives taken by various automobile giants and the government are also full of challenges. Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India has not been fully developed and setting up of level-2 charging at public level shall be the toughest challenge. It is difficult to repair a hyperloop if it breaks down en route as the repair team has to enter a sealed tunnel which is partially vacuum. The Bharat Stage VI emission norms will pull down the market-share of diesel cars from 42 percent to 28 percent, making cars pricier.

Green technology for automobiles is a small step towards addressing the issues related to climate change. The way India adopts these innovations and the government tackles challenges will only decide the fate of these initiatives.