In a recent interview with a reputed daily, Chetan Maini
, the pioneer of electric cars in India, shared his views on electric cars
. He replied to the general queries for people asking if there was a market for electric cars in India
. And were there buyers for these cars? Let us find out the answers to these questions. Here is a synopsis of his analysis on electric cars.
Chetan Maini, Deputy Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Reva Electric Car Company always maintained that, people do not buy electric cars for doing long distances or do not own it as a family vehicle. They see them as ideal for covering short distances and negotiating congested and narrow roads. Naturally, women are big fans of these cars. “They constitute 50 per cent of all electric car buyers” says Maini.
The experience of Reva Electric Car Company
is that most customers are second-time buyers. But, going forward, the company sees even-first time Indian car buyers
opting for electric cars. The market will grow in tandem with the economy. The market now is about two to three per cent of the overall car market
. But by 2020, the share will go up to twenty per cent.
Renault India too sees a potential market for electric cars because of the character of its cities and the typical traffic conditions. “The way society is changing towards greener and eco-friendly technologies, electric cars will be a driving force in the near future” he says.
Currently, the only obstacle on clean technology for eco-friendly vehicles is the cost. Manufacturers may be ready, but not buyers. Almost the first challenge, the electric-car makers have in front of them is to make long-lasting batteries that need less frequent charging and are not too expensive. Auto companies are working on this. The few electric or combo models available now in India mainly use traditional lead-acid batteries, rather than lithium-ion batteries used in the developed world.
The second challenge is making the cars price competitive. For that auto companies want support from the Government in developing infrastructure and spreading awareness. Though the auto companies are ready to mass-produce, the only glitch is that the buyers are too few, thanks to the price tag the car carries.
Mr. Maini wants the Indian Government to intervene and provide more and more incentives for these projects. He states, “Government must provide incentive (to customers) to make the shift to electronic cars. Countries, including Thailand, China, Israel, the UK, offer a variety of concessions”. “As a result, these cars go off the dealerships at a faster rate in these countries. Besides, their government gives direct help to manufacturers to develop these electric cars and also in their promotion” he added.
From the War of Currents (between Tesla and Edison) to the war of words (between automakers and policymakers) electric vehicles have only been a flash in the pan.
This time, however, electric cars seem ready to make a full throttle comeback.
Electric vehicles or EVs
have always been just an idea of the motor industry
and certainly has a long way to go till it becomes a reality. It dates back to the time of Nikola Tesla, 1880s when the scientist made the use of alternative current
(now used in EVs) possible in a big way.
Electric cars have not been able to replace vehicles running on petrol and other biofuels, although they were meant for the purpose. Recently, Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan and Renault said in Stanford Graduate School of Business, “The electric car, a vehicle that was practically gone before it arrived, is anything but dead”.
The romance with electric cars has been short lived but it ignites every few decades only to be dowsed again. This year, majority of the automobile companies worldwide are talking about electric cars. Many have even conceptualised cars, which are environment friendly, easy to drive and light on the pocket. The 10th Auto Expo in New Delhi
this year saw the likes of Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India, Honda Siel, Toyota Kirloskar Motors
and Tata Motors
display their electric vehicles ready to ride on the Indian soil.
Although these vehicles are meant to be economical in every sense of the word, most of the buyers already own a car, in most cases a luxury car that runs on petrol or diesel. Take for example Rahul Bose, the Indian celebrity, who has already booked a four-door Reva car
and Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dikshit actually drives around the city on it. Whether they really care for the environment or not, an electric car in the garage does have a vanity value!