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Plugging into the Future: A paradigm shift for the global automobile industry

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As the world renews its focus on meeting global climate targets, it is the automobile industry that has internationally witnessed a shift. This shift towards a zero-emission future has introduced us to having vehicles that will help get us to meet the lower temperature goals of 1.5 degrees Celsius. A beginning towards that end has been made by changing gears to shift from internal combustion engine vehicles to zero-emission electric vehicles.

The concept of EV vehicles is a term associated with the present, thanks to technology and legislation paving the way into the future. Interestingly enough, it is a fact that electricity has been used to power transport as early as 100 years ago. Several experiments dotted the 19th century and the first-ever battery-powered motor saw success in 1834. Electric vehicles, including trams, and even trains, emerged towards the mid to late 1800s. It did not find much commercial success given the limitations of a rechargeable battery, etc.  

Heralding a Change

If we are to look at the present day, there are three main areas of change that are taking place with regard to the transition to EVs. There are drastic changes that will shape the paradigm shift in the automobile industry that we are talking about here. Regulation and policy, ensuring public awareness, influencing consumer action, and the development of newer technology, are the core factors that are heralding this positive sentiment. This is set to bring about a change that will see the world moving towards a point where most geographies are operating vehicles on electricity by 2030.      

In India, the centre and states have committed to the introduction of policies. This will help in tackling the challenges that come with the mechanics of the supply chain, manufacturing, and organising the charging infrastructure. In Britain, industry observers suggest that a tipping point where the sale of EVs rapidly grew beyond petrol and diesel vehicles has already happened. Backing this belief are announcements of the major automobile manufacturers. While Jaguar announced its plans to only sell EVs from 2025, Volvo said it would do the same from 2030.  

This is set to change the landscape drastically. On the policy front, there should be an alignment of climate, energy, transport, and taxation that works in tandem to meet our emission goals through EVs. As EVs plug into the future of the commuting space, the awareness among people too has grown. It has changed from having range-anxiety issues given the limits of electric vehicles in the past to embracing alternative and sustainable mobility modes in their rides.

Moving out of Infancy

The EV sector in India has begun to move out of its infancy and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 90% from 2021 to 2030. As the market grows, the penetration of EVs is expected to increase and move upward from the 1.3% of vehicle sales that it holds at the moment. Our ability to deliver on a model that makes shared, electric-powered, and connected mobility a reality, is what the government and industry believe will power India to emission limits set for 2030.

In India, given the diverse dynamics that our country presents, there are many types of vehicles that are now available in various electric variants. While there are two, three, and four-wheelers along with electric city buses that are now being plied by the Government, there is also the good old humble bicycle in its electric form that is available. The e-bikes are proving to be an excellent solution to clean zero-emission intra-city movement.

E-bikes are being seen as a practical mode of transport which given the added touch of health and fitness have seen increasing popularity ratings recently. Besides being lighter than electric two-wheelers, and easy on parking space, riding an e-bike does not call for holding a driving license. While the automobile industry perfects battery charging issues, battery swapping issues, light-weighting solutions, and the like for the bigger capacity vehicles, e-bikes have perfected most limitations that city-riders face.

As cities worldwide adopt an approach that is futuristic and the goal is to turn sustainable, human-centric, CO2-neutral, we need to integrate road engineering, having intelligent transport and data-driven solutions. For us to plug into the future as the global automobile industry shifts its focus to EV, we will need to think smart and back it up with research that goes hand in hand with the private and public sector sharing leadership in execution.

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