For a brief period during the lockdown, we witnessed clear skies, the return of some species of animals, and the breath of fresh air we yearned for, especially in metro cities. While these may have been the result of pandemic-induced restrictions, a major contributor to this brief period of nature's revival was the drastically reduced number of polluting vehicles on the roads. As a country that houses the world's six most polluted cities, India has made strong commitments to achieve its Paris Agreement targets, way before 2030. In this herculean task, electric vehicles have a central role to play. As with any new technology, EVs come with a number of myths, misconceptions and doubts. As India gears up to ride the electric mobility wave, it's important to clear these roadblocks, and make way for faster, widespread EV adoption. Let's jump right into busting some common EV myths, via hard facts.
- Charging electric vehicles is time-consuming: One of the most common concerns raised about shifting to EVs is that they take long hours to charge, leading to inconvenience in usage. While this argument is fair on the face of it, the fact is that most EV users charge their cars every few nights at home, using a 240V power outlet. This means their car is charged up and ready to roll the next morning. Additionally, various governments, in partnership with some of the leading vehicle manufacturers, have already installed supercharging stations. These enable users to charge their EVs in a matter of 30-60 minutes, which is about just as long as the time taken for a lunch or dinner break during a long drive. Many enterprises and organisations are already installing charging stations and adequate infrastructure in their parking lots in a bid to help their employees have a hassle-free commute in their EVs.
- Batteries used in EVs are potentially dangerous: While EVs have been lauded as one of the greatest strides in technology to make the environment better, many have questioned the safety factor concerning the batteries used and have even branded these vehicles as potentially dangerous. Fire-on-impact in an EV is a widely discussed question and recent findings have shown that the lithium-ion batteries used are as safe as a petrol or a diesel-powered engine. For instance, in the Tata Nexon EV, a stable lithium-ion battery is used which adjusts its working mechanism as per the device temperature. This technology uses an IP67 all-weather, shockproof, waterproof and dustproof battery which ensures the utmost safety of the vehicle. Also, the newer batteries are made of valuable and recyclable metals which adds to their shelf life. Every EV battery cell will go through rigorous testing, as per guidelines from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), to avoid instances of short circuits, overcharge or any other technical malfunctions in the device. This means all battery cells used in EVs on Indian roads will meet the AIS 048 standards defined by the ARAI. The fact of the matter is that ever-evolving technology and safety standards help ensure the highest quality of batteries in EVs. So, there's nothing to worry about.
- EVs are unaffordable: Electric Vehicles fall under the luxury market segment but we are seeing a change in the trend. Thanks to the many government subsidies and incentives, EVs are more accessible and affordable on Indian roads. Like with any car, car leasing can greatly help offset the high initial costs of EVs. Leasing allows you to completely do away with hefty down payments, and the easy monthly lease rentals let you pay only for as much as you drive. Lower running costs, significant tax relaxations (which mean lower lease rentals), and hassle-free maintenance and repairs make EVs an economical affair for both individual drivers and enterprises who make the switch.
- EVs will be a burden on the Indian electricity grid: If everyone switches to EVs, can the national electricity grid sustain it? The answer is yes. Will more EVs lead to increased electricity usage and eventually more fossil fuel burning? Not necessarily. India is predicted to have 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the end of 2022 and see a further increase up to 450 GW by the end of 2030. Also, the country is planning to go 100% EV by 2030, as economists predict that 93% of the crude oil requirement will only be met from oil import, leading to higher oil prices. With renewable energy infrastructure increasing, it'll be even more eco-friendly to power EVs, as emissions from the national electricity grid will also be cut down. Also, as per the recent framework suggested by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), India will adopt the Market-Based Economic Dispatch (MBED) model wherein the system will prioritise dispatching the cheapest power first to consumers. This will emphasise renewable energy procurement and the authorities will ensure more hybrid RE stations across the country. The Ministry of Power has constituted a committee and it is currently working on Tariff Restructuring reforms. This will take into account the load curve for each consumer category in order to incentivise the charging of EVs during off-peak hours. Essentially, we're moving towards more reliable, renewable electricity that can power our EVs.
- Inadequate charging infrastructure: EVs can be charged from an electric socket at home. As easy as that. This can easily sustain your daily city commute, local travel and even long-distance travel if you plan your stops right. Alternatively, the development of robust public charging networks for urban use as well as for highways using specialized DC or fast-charging will certainly contribute to an easy, efficient EV commute. As per the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), there has been rapid improvement with around 1,300 charging stations set up till now. It is anticipated that in the next 5-6 years, we would be able to create robust charging infrastructure in the country. States like Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Telangana are setting impressive targets for the deployment of public charging infrastructure, to increase EV adoption. Today, technology to charge EVs using solar power is also available in the market. Mahindra offers the Sun2Car option for an investment of ₹1 Lakh to charge their latest EV variant – Mahindra e2o.
- EVs are unfit for long-distance travel: Today, EV technology has developed to bring you a range of over 300 km, easily. Electric SUVs like MG ZS EV gets a 340 km range, in one full charge. Lithium-ion batteries have been a game-changer for the EV market. These batteries have a much better lifespan and higher energy density than lead-acid batteries. The average range of the top five electric cars existing in the Indian market is 300 km, which is more than enough for day-to-day use. With this range, they can comfortably navigate your long-distance travel, when your stops are planned right.
- EVs have lower speeds: EVs are powered by an electric motor that generates maximum torque at the push of a pedal. They can convert the whole torque that they're designed to supply, instantly, resulting in rapid acceleration. Even in consumer vehicles, some EVs are ready to achieve 0-96 km/h in 2.5 seconds! The Tesla Model S which can reach 100 km/h in just 2.4 seconds is a classic example. EV manufacturers are said to employ the Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors System which will help in developing the most advanced vehicles that utilise energy economically, without compromising on speed. Currently, there are electric cars in the Indian market with top speeds between 80-170 km/h from players like Tata, Mahindra, Hyundai and MG. So, rest assured, you don't lose out on speed.