Last week in Glasgow, India unveiled E-Amrit, a government-run portal that is a one-stop-shop for all your questions about electric vehicles. From subsidies for drivers and manufacturers to charging facility locations and financing options, the goal is to improve consumer knowledge.
This is a masterstroke of sorts and will shape the history of electric vehicle adoption globally. The more drivers know about their options – and the more governments can address concerns about the distance electric vehicles travel – the less likely they are to resort to old fossil fuel-driven habits. It’s not just about making the technology available, but giving potential buyers the tools to make informed decisions.
No doubt, there is a lot of information on the Internet. But relying on various reviews, news articles, and disparate sources isn’t necessarily the clearest or easiest way to get details. In India, where a significant portion of oil consumption is for fuel, this education campaign has the chance to make a big difference. There is a better, cleaner alternative for the same price.
The advantage of India, like several other emerging economies, is that the market is dominated by two-wheelers. Scooters and motorcycles make up three quarters of vehicles, while cars and SUVs only make up 13%. Two-wheelers lower the bar for the central challenge of electric vehicles: batteries. They don’t need to go that fast or that far, and their power packs are about eight times smaller than those of electric cars. This reduces the cost of the battery, which is typically around 50% of the vehicle. In a price sensitive market where mobility is ambitious, this will go a long way.
Electrification may first conjure up Tesla Inc., and Elon Musk’s big goals for operating in India are all very good. But drivers also need to know how they can play their part. Globally, lack of public awareness has been a huge barrier to adoption, and campaigns to promote the visibility of electric vehicles have had significant success. Some surveys have shown that even those who have switched to electricity can have misconceptions, showing how deep the misinformation can be.
The E-Amrit portal is a good start, albeit a bit bare-bones and doesn’t go into great detail about safety issues, battery systems, or pitfalls in battery replacement and recycling. This is the kind of political thinking and action we need.
If there is one thing that COP26 showed the world, it is that we can no longer rely solely on summits, semantics and political decision-makers to breathe cleaner air. Consumers need to get involved. E-Amrit seeks to enable them to do just that.