‘We are in the midst of seeing more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years.’ - Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors.
We are at a threshold where the coming years mark a huge change for the automotive sector. Internal combustion engines are being demonised and the world seems sold on the idea of zero-emission vehicles. Countries across the globe have set their deadlines to make the switch to these clean vehicles which consume nothing but electricity.
The initial fears of adapting to new technology is fading away, with manufacturers developing cars to put people’s fears of range anxiety and overlong charging cycles in the bag. The new batch of electric vehicles show that they have moved from niche products and are soon to penetrate into the mainstream.
Most manufacturers are already banking big on electric with large investments being made for their development, we are almost at the brink seeing a large scale electrification of cars in their upcoming refresh cycles.
Let’s try and look over the hype and consider some undeniable facts. It is very important to understand that electric cars do not really make power, rather they only consume it. Now this electricity needs to come from somewhere, and the source of electric power is still coal powered thermal plants.
The argument made in the west is that an electric powertrain is not too far behind a petrol powered car. But this is comparing it to vehicles of the US, which fall on one end of the the fuel efficiency scale. Consider a country such as India, where the car buyer is supremely conscious of the fuel efficiency of their vehicles which leads to manufacturers constantly developing leaner engines. This is where such arguments fall short and the actual impact of electric cars is much more than what restricted studies show.
Electric cars demand significant infrastructural development which in turn incur huge investments with setting up charging stations and ramping up electricity production. But such investments will not bear fruit until and unless we find a more responsible way to create electricity to bear the immense load which electric cars will put on the power grids.
Come to think about it, the current scenario only shifts the source of pollution away from the roads, but doesn’t necessarily control it as we are only ending up with burning one fuel over the other. There’s no denying that electric cars are the future and we must be ready to embrace it. That said, the use of sustainable and renewable sources is the brighter way forward in favour of electric vehicles.