Look back at the decade: Clean vehicles

Electric and hybrid vehicles trylu 'arrived' in the second decade of the millenium.

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 28 December 2019

India does give subsidy for buying electric/hybrid vehicles. And by March 2019, it amounted to Rs 360 crore for over 285,000 buyers. There is an official scheme called Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in (FAME-INDIA) to encourage switch-over to cleaner fuels to drive the aspirations of the booming middle class in India.

The decade that just passed by will be remembered for how electric/hybrid vehicles became a preferred choice for vehicle owners. Some 11 states have now policies to encourage switch to electric vehicles. The potential is huge: currently, electric vehicles account for just 1 per cent of total vehicle sales in India. A throwback:

E - driven  

The glitz and glamour at the biggest auto show in Delhi drew the highest number of footfalls ever. The show unveiled dreams and many of them had a green wrap this time. Amid the slew of small cars at the expo, held on January 5-11, was a line-up of electric and hybrid vehicles. Suddenly, e-vehicles have trudged up the popularity chart and become part of the business model of major automakers—both local and global. Some of them have finally looked beyond the conventional internal combustion engines and to a completely new genre of technology.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, concerns about air pollution and more important, the OPEC oil embargo, kindled interest in e-cars. This got further impetus in California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate that demanded 2 per cent of California’s vehicles to be zero emission by 1998 and 10 per cent by 2003. But the mandate waned due to technical and cost barriers. Sales plummeted and global carmakers such as Toyota rolled back their plans.

Concern over high oil prices and stringency in pollution and climate regulations have once again spurred new interest in e-vehicles. These are fuel efficient, as, technically the conversion of electrical energy into motive power is more efficient than burning fuel in an internal combustion engine. According to the California Air Resource Board, the estimated fuel efficiency of e-vehicles is three times higher than the conventional car. As electricity costs significantly less than oil, the operating cost per kilometre falls to a fraction of that in a petrol car.

Several international organisations including the International Energy Agency forecast modest growth of electrification of the vehicle market by 2020 in a conservative scenario. This could increase to a quarter of the new vehicle sales by 2050. High prices, limited range, slow investment in technology improvement and lack of charging infrastructure have significantly slowed the commercialisation of e-vehicles. The battery is a major chunk of the cost of e-vehicles. It costs nearly 30 per cent of an e-bike’s price. And it has to be replaced every two to three years. For an e-car, a battery costs Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000. 

Also in the decade


Tomorrow’s cars and motorcycles may operate on hydrogen, instead of petrol. A Benares Hindu University team in Varanasi, led by physics professor O N Srivastava, has succeeded in operating a hydrogen-powered motorcycle on the street. And, H B Mathur, professor in the mechanical engineering department at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, has developed an internal combustion engine that works entirely on hydrogen.


Electric cab services are garnering interest in Indian cities. Lithium Cabs, an all-electric cab service, originally from Bengaluru, has already started operations in the National Capital Region. Nagpur was the first city in India to have an electric cab fleet, introduced by Ola Cabs plying within the city limits.

NUMBer: 30% Adoption of electric vehicles by 2030

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