Efforts to combat climate change have resulted in countries around the world ratifying agreements and commitments to cut down on their carbon footprints. As a noted victim of climate change, India, in particular, has played a key role in these initiatives with India ratifying the Paris Agreement in late 2016 as just one example. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the move in a surprise announcement before a BJP conclave, citing Mahatma Gandhi’s minimal carbon footprint as inspiration.
Yet there is also another environmentally conscious initiative on the horizon, in the form of a plan by the Indian government to make 40% of cabs electric by 2026. According to a piece by Reuters India on the plan, rideshare companies like Ola and Uber will have to convert 40% of their fleet to electronic vehicles (EVs) within the next 7 years, as part of India’s commitment in the Paris climate change treaty to reduce oil imports and curb pollution. Reportedly, authorities could order the conversion be done gradually, with 2.5% of their fleets being electric by 2021, 5% by 2022 and so forth. The government could even push for 30% of all buses to go electric by 2026, on top of introducing a rule that all commercial vehicles sold after April 2026 be electric.
The Benefits of Electric Vehicles
India isn’t the only country whose government is pushing for the mass adoption of electric vehicles. In Australia, a Senate report has urged the country to catch up in adopting electric vehicles or risk getting left behind by the rest of the world. The report then recommended measures such as a national electric vehicle target for government vehicle fleets and new vehicle emissions standards among others.
Australian fleet buyers have already begun to signal a shift to EVs, with Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) detailing how roughly 19,000 businesses in Australia operate fleets of 20 vehicles or more, which represents 2.1 million vehicles. In an event hosted by the CEFC called EV Drive Day, numerous fleet buyers and managers from different organisations took advantage of an opportunity to test drive electric passenger and light commercial vehicles. When asked to identify the main attraction of EVs, many cited lower emissions but also reduced maintenance and fuel costs.
In this regard, fleet managers are constantly looking at various options to make their vehicles more efficient. From proper vehicle maintenance to driver behaviour, an article by Verizon Connect on lower fuel costs with driver education discusses how commercial fleet vehicles are making the shift to reduce their fuel consumption. Shifts like these signal that companies are gradually moving away from fossil fuels. Despite these initiatives, however, climate targets are still left unmet- -presenting a ripe opportunity for EVs to take over.
“The world is embracing EVs and we must too,” said independent Senator Rex Patrick, who also wants a ban on the ban the importation and sale of petrol-driven cars by 2035. “It’s not a question of if, it’s simply one of when.”
Compared to petrol-powered cars, ABC News’ exploration of the benefits of EVs find that EVs can emit up to one-seventh less CO2 per kilometre. Specifically, the average emissions budget of a petrol-powered car sold in 2016 reached 182 g CO2/km, while charging an EV on Australia’s cleanest grid can emit as little as 27 g CO2/km. Even charging in other areas such as South Australia brings emission rates only to 95 g CO2/km, barely over half that of petrol. EVs can then greatly improve the chances of meeting emission reduction goals from the Paris agreement.
This is especially relevant to India, where The Economic Times points out that about two-thirds of deaths from air pollution can be traced to exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles. Furthermore, a study has even found that diesel vehicles were responsible for roughly 385,000 deaths in 2015 alone. If EVs can demonstrate the capacity to be cleaner than petrol, surely it can do the same for diesel- -good news for Indian air quality either way.