Maharaja Ranjit Singh is claimed to have remarked ‘Sab lal ho jayega’, which means that the British purple will cowl your complete map of India. He was proper – it did. 


Now union minister Nitin Gadkari says ‘Sab inexperienced ho jayega’ (or phrases to that impact), which means that each one automobiles will grow to be electrical.


Sure, electrical automobiles (EVs) are certainly across the nook, however it’s a troublesome nook to get round.


Allow us to settle for the underlying logic for going electrical – fossil fuels are imported and costly, electrical energy is Indian and low-cost, and fuel-burn air pollution is a menace. 

However when did we Indians settle for logic when it clashed in opposition to our wallets?


So, allow us to take a look at it from a car-owner’s perspective.


A petroleum automobile prices Rs10 per km to run (about – 10km per liter (kmpl) and Rs100 per liter). 


An electrical automobile runs 7kms on 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of cost, say 5kms with air-conditioning (a/c), and energy prices no more than Rs10 per kWh, so Rs2 per kms. 


So, in case you run your automobile 1,000kms monthly, you’ll save Rs8,000 a month, or almost Rs1 lakh a yr.


Ah, there’s a catch – there all the time is!! 


You must pay Rs2-3 lakhs extra for an electrical automobile in comparison with the same petrol automobile. 


It’s as if you’re being requested to purchase a automobile, plus petrol for one yr, all paid up-front. 


Individuals are reluctant to do that.


There’s additionally the query of vary, which arises out of a fragile balancing challenge.


To run as far on a single cost as a petroleum automobile or bike runs on one tank of petrol, an electrical automobile or bike wants an enormous battery, which suggests extra price and extra weight. 


In case you preserve the vary under 100kms on a single cost, the battery will price much less however you’ll have to cost up extra typically, maybe even each day. What does the frequent man choose?


If you’re driving 1,000kms a month, it really works out to 40kms a day (25 days a month). Therefore a 100kms vary will maintain two days working. 


A battery will final over 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging, so which means over 5 years of utilization. 


In case you save Rs1 lakh a yr on petrol, it is sensible to pay Rs2-3 lakhs extra up-front. 


Thoughts you, on the finish of the 5 years, you’ll have to change the battery.


However we Indians are obsessed about one factor or one other. 


Right now the most typical query to a car-owner is “kitna deti hai?”, i.e., gas consumption. 


Tomorrow it would grow to be “kitna chalti hai?”, i.e., vary.


Maybe individuals hate the thought of getting to recharge the automobile’s battery each two days, as in opposition to going to a petroleum pump as soon as in ten days. 


Or maybe they’ve fond desires of doing a protracted journey within the automobile, which is subsequent to not possible in an electrical automobile with a variety of 100kms.


The following query is “how do I re-charge?” 


Only a few individuals dwell in a home with a storage having a handy charging level. Massive constructing complexes haven’t found out the way to present charging factors within the basement car parking zone, and the way to invoice its customers for the electrical energy. 


Most individuals park their automobiles wherever they’ll, the place there are not any charging factors. 


Sure, charging factors are being arrange in petrol pumps and by the roadsides. 


However progress is sluggish and there merely gained’t be sufficient charging factors for all of the EVs.


Word – much less problematic for electrical two-wheelers. The battery will be designed for simple elimination, and lightweight (inside 8kg, the load of a carry-on bag on a airplane), as a way to take away it, take it house, and cost it in a single day.


There are two options to the battery drawback – monetary and technological.


First the monetary:


Promote EVs with out batteries – lease out the batteries on a “payment per cost” foundation.


Set up huge batteries which offer ranges of 300kms or extra.


Swap a discharged battery for a totally charged one at a petroleum pump, at a price which contains of the electrical energy price plus the lease, or rental, payment.


It will deliver down the price of an EV to that of an equal petrol car, give it an honest vary, and unfold the battery price over years as an alternative of an up-front cost. 


Additionally, bulk charging, of many batteries at a time, will be accomplished way more simply at a petroleum pump.


The opposite resolution is technological – a battery that doesn’t want charging in any respect. 


One instance is an aluminum-air battery which produces electrical energy by the chemical degradation of aluminum plates, which will be eliminated after utilization and re-cycled. 


Many various applied sciences are being pursued proper now, and perhaps some magic resolution will evolve.


There’s additionally an over-riding challenge. 


The place will all this electrical energy come from? 


Solar energy is just not an instantaneous reply, as a result of automobiles run throughout the day, after they can’t be simply charged, and have to be charged at evening when there is no such thing as a solar energy. Sure, big quantities of solar energy will be generated throughout the day, to be saved and used for charging EVs at evening. 


However there you’re – batteries rear their ugly heads!! 


Operating EVs on electrical energy generated by burning coal is just not actually eliminating air pollution. It’s easy transferring the air pollution elsewhere.


Ah nicely……!! Many snags and projections loom within the proverbial nook round which the EVs should steer.


However there may be one bit which the planners appear to have neglected – the ‘step’ between ‘hop’ and ‘bounce’ (ala hop-step-jump) in shifting from fossil gas automobiles to EVs.

I imply the hybrid, a car with a small-ish engine and a really small battery.


I’ve pushed a mid-sized Toyota hybrid automobile, with a 1.6-liter petrol engine (small by worldwide requirements), 3,300kms throughout Scandinavia in 15 days, overlaying highways, hill roads, and minor roads. 


I acquired a mileage of 24kms per liter, most likely twice as a lot as the same petrol-only automobile. 


By way of efficiency and luxury, there was no distinction from a daily automobile, and no charging was required. It ran identical to a standard petrol automobile with an automated gearbox.


Why doesn’t the federal government promote the introduction of hybrid automobiles to bridge over the time it is going to take to enhance battery know-how and cut back prices, and to arrange charging infrastructure? 


Over two crore outdated automobiles are dealing with the scrapyard immediately. How about changing them with hybrids as an alternative of EVs (at the moment infeasible on a big scale) or extra petrol and diesel automobiles? 


It will reduce gas consumption by an enormous quantity, and thus cut back air pollution as nicely.


Alas, babus don’t learn, not less than they don’t learn my articles!


(Deserting engineering after a yr in a manufacturing unit, Amitabha Banerjee did an MBA within the US and returned to India. Selecting work-to-live over live-to-work, he joined banking and labored for varied banks in India and the Center East. Publish retirement, he returned to his hometown Kolkata and is now spending his golden years travelling the world (till Covid, that’s), enjoying bridge, befriending Netflix & Prime Video and writing in his spouse’s journey weblog.)