Have you ever thought what would happen if India runs only on electric vehicles, no? I brought you some points to ponder on
The Government of India has launched the second version of Electric Vehicles subsidy scheme called FAME II. Here FAME means Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles. The Government is trying to focus on increasing the adoption rate for Electric Vehicles in India. India has a target of at least 30% sales from electric vehicles by 2030.
The FAME II scheme will be awarded to only those electric vehicles which have at least 50% of Indian made content. Has a regenerative braking system, a full electric range of at least 100 km and with a top speed of more than 40 kmph. The manufacturers are disappointed because most two-wheelers do not comply with the new rules of FAME II.
First thing first, more than 50% of components are imported from China. These components are Lithium-ion batteries and electric motors. Some startups in India are designing their own motor controller but manufacturing is still done by China. Thus, the percentage of Indian made content is quite low on electric two-wheelers in India.
Most of the electric two-wheelers in India are low capacity electric scooters which have a top speed of 25 kmph and range under 60-70 km per charge. No to forget adding regenerative braking will increase the price of an electric vehicle. These affordable EVs will not get the subsidy from the government.
Electric Vehicles are pretty expensive
If all Electric Vehicles makers try to comply with all the rules of FAME II scheme, the prices of their electric bikes and scooters will easily cross Rs 1 lakh mark. Now keep your palm on your beating heart and sincerely tell me will you buy an electric vehicle over a standard 100cc motorcycle which cost just Rs 50k to 60k on-road.
No, you won’t. Why? because you’ll have a limited range of around 100 km per charge. Electric vehicles don’t go fast, a 1 lakh electric scooter will max out at 75 kmph. You live in a high rise building on the 13th floor and cannot charge your scooter or bike in the parking because there are no such provisions provided by the builders as of now. For this, you need a detachable battery pack which is offered by a couple of brands only.
You cannot ride on highways
Yes, this one is pretty important to note, you cannot ride on highways. With a battery range of just 100 km, there is no chance you will plan a weekend trip. You seriously need an electric bike with at least 200 km range per charge at a speed of 80-90 kmph. Don’t get offended, but this kind of bike will cost you at least Rs 2 lakh.
You can do one thing, if your EV’s battery is detachable, you can buy an extra battery pack. For this, all you have to do is take a small personal loan. Whatever, you’ll gonna get bored on an Electric Bike or Scooter unless you are rich (to buy an expensive electric bike with long range). But if you are rich, you’ll buy a petrol powered sports bike, that’ll be more fun.
What about the charging infrastructure?
Okay, you bought a scooter with detachable battery and you happily charge it in your bedroom. I mentioned a couple of problems above and now another one strikes you. You will still fall into the trap of charging batteries away from your home. What if you couldn’t charge your battery to 100% due to a power cut or you just forgot?
You’ll say, you can charge it from the charging infrastructure. What if even they are suffering from power cut (Power cuts are common in India). Let’s consider you got some urgent business and have to go 30 more kilometers and your display shows just 10 or 15 km.
What will you do? Will you catch public transport after spending more than Rs 1 lakh on a so-called environment-friendly machine? No, you’ll kind of regret the situation and plug in your EV into a public charging station. Then wait for at least 30 minutes before you are ready to travel again. Let me give you a better thing to do in that time, browse facebook and update from status.
Then you’ll face battery life problem
Let’s consider you are lucky and managed to live happily with your electric vehicle for 3 to 4 years. One day or another, there will come a time when you need to change your battery pack as its life is over. Most Li-ion battery packs used in two-wheelers have a life of 1000 cycles. This means once you charged the battery pack 1000 times you need to change it.
And it will cost you at least 30% of the cost of your EV. A 1 lakh EV’s battery pack will set you back by upward of Rs 20,000. Now you’ll realize that you have spent the amount (by not filling petrol) which you saved in the past 3-4 years. Where’s the benefit? Read more below, there’s a lot more.
Will Electric Vehicles reduce pollution?
If you look at this from a certain point of view, electric vehicles are supposed to reduce pollution in urban areas. But this will increase the burden on India’s electric grids. To cope up with the increased burden we’d required to generate more electricity and this will be done via more coal-fired power plants.
As you all know, generating electricity via thermal powerplants only increase pollution levels. And this fact is well noted by the researchers that running cars and bikes on electricity (which comes through thermal powerplants) only give rise to more pollution. Pollution is pollution, whether it is in Urban areas or sub-urban/remote areas.
Will renewable energy sources help?
Renewable energy is a good option but a large amount of money and infrastructure is required to harness the power from nature than by burning coal. The main chunk of renewable electricity comes from Hydroelectricity followed by Solar and Wind energy. Renewable sources account for nearly 30% of total electricity generation in the country.
Let’s assume we install more renewable electricity in the future, but we can never have an efficient charging infrastructure to deliver that electricity to our batteries. Even if we have the infrastructure, we will need more and more electricity with each passing year which cannot come from the renewable sources alone.
Here are the solutions
Okay, now I’ve talked about the problems regarding the electric vehicles, let’s move on to the solutions. We need more than just one thing for powering mobility which is environment-friendly. New batteries to a new power source, we need these things for greener future. The batties also must be cheaper to own and maintain.
First of all, we need new battery technology which can provide a 3-4 time more range than current generation Li-ion batteries. At present research are going on to increase the capacity of Li-ion from current 250 Wh/kg to 330 Wh/kg. This translates to nearly 30% increase in capacity and in turn more range.
There are other research going on with solid-state batteries which are claimed to have 4 times more charge holding capacity. Only time will tell us which battery technology will be adopted for mass manufacturing and practical use. Not to forget the charging speed and battery life. The charging of batteries must be fast and the life of the battery must be around 2000 charge-discharge cycles.
When it comes to charging, we need next-generation battery technology which can be charged quickly from anywhere. The charging stations must be setup by the Government instead of a few electric vehicle startups. Electric Vehicles startups are setting up their own public charging grid only in the cities where they operate.
The government should take the initiative to setup as many public charging stations as possible. I think we require at least one station every 2-3 km in the urban areas and one charging station every 20-25 km on the state highways, national highways, and expressways.
This will help new startups to focus on electric vehicles like cars and motorcycles instead of public charging stations. With this normal customers can buy electric two-wheelers without range anxiety and charging headaches.
To get rid of all the problems of pollution and the adverse effect on the environment, we need Nuclear Fusion to power the Earth. This technology is still in nascent stages as nuclear fusion is not stable yet. The power it generates on the experimental level is lower than what powers it up. It is expected that by the year 2050 the world will see the light of electricity generation by Nuclear Fusion.
Once it is achieved, we no longer need to burn coal and crude oil for our electricity requirement. All the electricity will come to us from Nuclear Fusion which is completely green and does not produce any harmful emissions.
Finally, I would like to say that now is not the time where we can depend on electric vehicles for our mobility solutions. You can buy an electric scooter or a bike as a secondary vehicle but not primary. Because it is not feasible to just have an electric bike.
The government should first focus on the adoption of electric vehicles for public transport as well as for official government transportation. They need to create policies which will create a driving force for the manufacturing sector. Now is the time where we need more manufacturers to develop electrical components. At present most of the electrical components are imported from China which is damaging India’s economy.
Today, electric rickshaws are sprawling everywhere in nearly every Indian city. But we must take note of the fact that 90% of them are stealing electricity for charging. The electricity mafia will play a disruptive role in this regard. People in this country have a mentality of using things for free and it’s not going to change anytime soon.
Electricity cost will also play a major role as public charging stations will ask the price of electricity as per commercial rates. At commercial rates, people will refrain from charging at the charging stations which will further degrade the image of electric mobility. The price should be lower for faster adoption of electric vehicles.
For now, run your machines on petrol and wait for the electric scenario to change. And when it does, be the first to buy an electric motorcycle and save both your money and environment.
Ride Safe, Ride Hard, and always wear a helmet while riding. Stay Tuned for more from the world of motorcycling.