The entire automobile industry is going through a transformation. Technology is changing, everyone is looking forward to having an economically efficient mechanism for transportation at a personal level. But the major crisis we are all into is the environmental pollution caused by fossil fuels and the major contributor is automobiles that we use for our daily commute.
The quest for sustainable energy is on the rise and electricity is always considered as the best replacement as it causes zero pollution considering the vehicle. But consider 40% of vehicles use electricity and we are still depending on fossil fuels for electricity generation and what will be the amount of pollution at the source? Apart from that the main source of energy in electric cars are chargeable batteries and the question is about their cost, life span, re-usability, and safe disposal. Another matter of concern is that we can not switch to EVs(Electric vehicles) overnight and need a long preparation for the infrastructural development and feasible technologies. And the government also has to build proper policies regarding EVs.
Now let us have a detailed look at our options to achieve steady and sustainable energy management for transportation and to have a better, greener environment for the future.
ICE (Internal combustion engine) automobiles are now ruling the roads for their ease of availability, and performance. But we are facing a pollution problem, in which ICE vehicles are doing a major role. The government had mandated norms like BS6 to reduce the pollution rate.
Internal combustion engine uses fossil fuels like petrol, diesel or gasoline to be ignited inside engine chambers to produce thermal energy which is converted to rotational energy and is used for locomotion.
The byproduct of fuel combustion is forced out of the engine through the exhaust system. The exhaust gas contains a lot of oxides of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrocarbons which are highly affecting the environment in bad ways. BS6 norms are mandated to make the engine exhaust gases to be with very fewer pollutants for a safe environment.
EV - Electric Vehicles
An electric vehicle runs on electric motors or traction motors which are powered by batteries, solar panels or electric generators. So the major part of EVs is a power source and electrically functioning motor for propulsion. So the plus point is no combustion of fuel is happening and hence zero pollution. But there is a bottleneck - the energy supply, we need to use a battery to store the electric energy to pass on to electric motors for the kinematics.
So what are the bottlenecks? - it's nothing other than the battery. A battery delivery up to 50kwh weighs around 250 kg and more powerful batteries come in a range of 400 to 600 kg. So the size of the battery, the charging time, lifespan and the charging sources are the major concerns. We can't simply go for a huge battery to get more power and mileage. We need to rely on technological enhancements to come up with a solution. The R & D team is working towards a better charging time and has achieved almost 60 % to 75 % of charging in 15 mints. About the lifespan of batteries, it is expected to have a span of 8 plus years (but we need batteries with more life span) and seems like a pretty good life span. An approximate rate of an EVs battery will come around 75,000 Indian rupees. But one concern is about the reusability or safe disposal of the battery.
Above all of these government has to develop clear policies so that the automobile manufacturers can gear up the process from their part.
Our country mainly depends on fossil fuels to generate electricity and by changing our automobiles into electric powered; we need to depend more on fossil fuels to meet the requirement. This will end up us in more or less a similar situation and the only advantage is that we can reduce pollution in townships and cities while increasing the pollution level at power generating stations.
Here is the list of electric vehicles available in India
ISRO is working with Maruti Omni to use the solar panels as the main power source.
Hybrid Vehicles are those vehicles who use multiple power sources for propulsion. In simple words, a hybrid vehicle must have an internal combustion engine to run the vehicle and also to run an electric generator to power an electric motor. The basic principle is different motors work with different efficiency at different speeds. Electric motors are good at generating torque while IC engines are good at maintaining a high speed. In hybrid vehicles, both of the motors are worked depends on speed and we can achieve greater fuel efficiency with less pollution.
Hybrid vehicles got many subtypes by design, degree of hybridization and type of fuel used like a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid vehicles, parallel hybrid, electric internal combustion engine hybrid and many more.
Mild hybrid vehicles
They are also named as power assist hybrids. Battery assisted hybrids or BAHVs. Mild hybrid vehicles have an internal combustion engine with an electric motor/ generator in a parallel hybrid configuration. The advantage of this configuration is, it helps to turn off the IC engine when the car is stopped or lay idle ( in a traffic signal) and restart quickly. They use regenerative braking to charge the battery while braking and support the IC engine to some extent.
Plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV)
They are almost like mild hybrid vehicles but the electric motor/ generator configuration can be series or parallel. The main difference is that they are equipped with batteries with increased storage capacity. Depending on the size of the battery, the car can be driven fully on electric mode for a distance. Also, they can be charged by plugging in and thus the IC engine is not used much to charge the power cells.
Top hybrid cars available in India
Maruti Suzuki had emerged as the leading manufacturer in the country. The company sold over 1.7 million vehicles during the fiscal year 2019. In the Indian car market, four of the top five bestselling units were owned by Maruti. If you are looking for buying Maruti Suzuki cars you can approach Indus motors. They are the No.1 authorized Maruti dealers in Kerala.
What Experts Say
Our Government strongly wishes to implement EVs by 2030. India had taken a big leap from BS4 to BS6 and now a sudden change from ICE to EVs will not be an easy transformation. R&D is going on to achieve economical and efficient power cell storage. And EVs will not be affordable to common people until we achieve the milestone.
We can have a look at what the industry experts call on the same.
"This is a consumer-based market so consumer acceptability and desirability are key factors. We are not yet there. We need to address the obstacles in transiting to e-vehicles through incentives against scrapping of old vehicles, reducing GST, business models" by TERI (The Energy and Resource Institute) chief Ajay Mathur
"The industry should do its homework and suggest to the government what is it they would like, then the government can look into the demands of the industry and only after that, go for an EV policy. The technology is still evolving, so I don't think it makes sense to have any targets right now." by RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki
Considering the Indian economy, people's concerns, and the top industries' proposals, India needs to change to EVs, but not in a quick fashion. People need to get habitual to electric vehicles by changing cars to hybrid types in the initial phase and public transport to electric vehicles. The hybrid vehicles will form a bridge for people to understand the vehicle and to transform completely into electric vehicles. This bridge time will help the Evs to evolve into a better performing and efficient system. The Government will also get time to study and scrutinize the market and build policies for the EVs. This time period will also help to build infrastructures like charging stations, battery manufacturing units, battery disposal technologies and many more. So Hybrid vehicles can play a vital role in this transformation process.
Currently, there are tax benefits announced by NITI ayog and GST on electric vehicles set to slash from 12% to 5% and which will in effect give a customer about 1.5 lakh tax deduction on the interest paid on loans taken to buy EVs.
But for hybrid vehicles, the total tax is 43% inclusive of GST and hopes the government will show a positive attitude towards it in promoting the transition.
Battery waste a threat
Even though around the globe we are not totally into EVs, but still, billions of batteries are disposed to the environment from sources like mobiles, cameras, toys, and electronic equipment. The batteries contain toxic elements like cadmium, lithium, and mercury which are very harmful and we need better recyclable and environment-friendly power sources. Before jumping to Evs, we need to identify effective measures for the safe disposal and reuse of batteries.
Green sustainable future
All these efforts are for a better future with less pollution and we need to work together for the cause. But sudden changes may not bring the desired result and we need to go forward step by step to achieve the goal.
We need to convert to electric vehicles but not in a short span, but we need a perfect bridge, like Hybrid vehicles to reach the point- a green sustainable, pollution-free future.
The auto industry is going for a great transformation and there is no doubt that the present fleet of the vehicles is going to be replaced with the electrical ones soon. For the time being the hybrid type will rule the scene but as more powerful batteries are available there will be a paradigm shift in this arena.
One thing which seems to be on the anvil is the battery booths where a person can leave his old battery and take a charged one in its place on payment of some money which can be in the nature of fuel charges of today. Now there are some practical things which are to be considered in this model. The batteries have a life of 4-5 years only and when a person is giving an old battery for replacement then there should be a system of accepting it and the cost should be built up in the national model of providing a charged battery in place of an old battery in whatever condition it is. This will take some time to establish as the mindset of the people has to change considerably in this matter. So ultimately no one will own a battery and it will be the property of the battery dealer/ booth person just like today we get gas in a gas cylinder and cylinder goes back to the dealer. Once the battery booths are established every 4-5 km or so then the people have the option of changing the battery in time and can have a smooth ride ahead.
Another thing is that some people will like to keep a backup battery in their house along with a charger to keep it ready for the emergency and that thing will be a common factor in the households having an electric car for going here and there. So all these aspects are to be built up in the new environment where battery booths will be seen in plenty in places. Of course, petrol pumps will also survive as heavy vehicles have to get the fuel from them only.
Right now, we can't switch to electric vehicles all of a sudden as we lack proper infrastructure for running electric vehicles on Indian roads. There are not that much electric charging stations in India, in fact negligible. So, firstly we have to move slowly and steadily towards hybrid cars. After people gets adjust to hybrid cars, we can further move to Electric cars. And government also needs to launch subsidies for buying electric vehicles, so as to encourage buyers.