Future of public transport in India: Electric buses

Electric bus future

Intangles’ Co-founder and CEO, Anup Patil, writes for The Times Of India. The article emphasises the role played by Electric Vehicles in revolutionizing the Indian Public Transport sector. It also talks about the various schemes being implemented by the government to promote EV adoption.

Our planet’s reserves of natural resources like crude oil and gas are diminishing rapidly due to extreme consumption levels. Moreover, the relentless burning of fossil fuels generates massive amounts of greenhouse gases, which has intensified global warming. As a result, the number of climatic disruptions like changes in weather, heat waves, droughts and dry spells, forest fires, and melting of the ice caps and glaciers worldwide has multiplied in the last few years.

It is prudent that we moderate our dependence on oil and natural gas for our perennial energy and fuel-related needs. This requires switching to an alternate source of energy that is sustainable, renewable and exerts less pressure on the planet, which is where Electric Vehicles come into the picture. Most countries aggressively push for mass EV adoption to reduce the strain on fossil fuels. The ubiquitous EV movement across the globe is a testament to people growing conscious and embracing planet-friendly tactics.

EV adoption comes with a wide range of benefits, the primary advantage being saving on fuel costs. The total savings can be gauged by the fact that paying Rs 12 per kW is equal to driving on gas which costs more than Rs 100 per litre. Most importantly, EVs are eco-friendly and emit zero pollutants which damage the environment. They also require less maintenance compared to ICEs, courtesy of proficient electric motors that enable better performance in the long run.

India imported crude oil worth $122.45 billion during 2021-22. Currently positioned 11 in the list of the World’s Leading EV Adopters, we still have a long way to go to make EV implementation a feasible reality in our country. The government must build a novel transportation framework around revolutionary EV technology to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070. With a population of over 1 billion, a developing economy like India promises great potential for leveraging EVs. Home to a substantial middle-income segment that forms the cornerstone of our developing economy, EV-based public transportation can work wonders if implemented efficiently.

The government needs to introduce a systemic transformation in the public transportation system and introduce fully EV-powered buses that can help people save considerable money while being gentle on the environment. In 2021, India had over 1000 electric buses plying as public transportation, with Mumbai emerging as the EV flagbearer with 246 buses. Amid skyrocketing petrol and diesel prices, the government is sincerely pushing for the incorporation of EVs across mainstream mobility and public transportation to promote a cleaner environment and curb our exorbitant oil import bills in the near future. The NITI Aayog aims to achieve a substantial EV sales penetration of 70% for all commercial cars, 30% for private cars, 40% for buses and 80% for two and three-wheelers, come 2030. This is in accordance with the goal of achieving net zero carbon emission.

The PLI scheme for the automotive sector, along with the already launched PLI for Advanced Chemistry Cell (Rs 18,100 crores) and Faster Adaption of Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme (Rs 10,000 crores), will provide a significant boost to EV manufacturers in the country. Moreover, the renewed focus of the PLI scheme on alternative fuels, electric vehicles and the utilisation of advanced technological innovations will assist the industry in advancing towards future technologies. This is a remarkable undertaking by the government for its workforce, organisations (OEMs), and consumers who yearn for competitive, diverse, and climate-conscious mobility solutions and a progressive India.

With these beneficial schemes being floated, the proliferation, adoption and deployment of EV buses all over the country seem attainable. Let us delve into the factors and measures that are playing a significant role in the pan-India propagation of EV buses:

There is a pressing need for government and vested stakeholders in the automotive ecosystem to accelerate and incentivise the R&D essential for creating a vibrant EV mobility circuit in the country that comprises buses, cars, rickshaws and other vehicles.

The GST council recently announced that EVs with or without battery packs will now be taxed at 5 per cent. This decision highly benefited the EV community, which was previously subjected to a tax percentage of 5% in the case of EVs and 18% with lithium-ion batteries. As the lithium-ion battery comprises a significant part of the total cost, this was a welcome move for EV fleet owners and manufacturers around the country.

One of the central components of EVs is the Battery Management System. Lithium-ion batteries can be utilised only under certain conditions, so a state-of-the-art BMS is essential to monitor the battery state and ensure operational safety.

India currently has a significant disparity between the number of EV charging stations and the total number of EVs. Irrespective of the government’s ambitious plans to pave the way for an electric future, we are continually troubled by a subpar and inadequate EV charging ecosystem. It is the need of the hour to establish multiple charging stations strategically scattered across the nation, including solo parking slots. This will help create a scalable-at-will EV charging network that utilises an all-permeating low-tension electricity distribution infrastructure. The success of EVs in India depends on effectively creating a full-fledged charging infrastructure that relies on partnerships and collaborations between diverse stakeholders.

The EV sector is still at a nascent stage. It must focus on key internal aspects such as the supply chain to offer a real challenge to the traditional automotive industry.

EVs substituting traditional ICEs is a pressing priority across India and the rest of the world. The ongoing climate change crisis is slated to worsen further if unresolved. It is the responsibility of the government and all invested stakeholders to streamline this much-needed transition across the mobility sector and carve a better and more sustainable future.

Source: Times of India

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