Despite the comparatively azure blue skies experienced during the lockdown last year, the reality is that as many as 22 Indian cities feature in the top-30 most polluted cities in the world. While natural causes are also responsible for the rising air pollution in the country, anthropogenic factors have a consequential impact. Although industries, thermal power plants and real estate contribute a lot to air pollution, these fall short of vehicular emissions by a large margin. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), transportation accounts for 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions due to fuel combustion. According to the data published by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, more than 4 crore vehicles plying on Indian roads are older than 15 years. Consequently, one can imagine the extent to which transportation and mobility is causing environmental degradation.
Two-wheelers are one of the top vehicular pollution contributors. India is the largest two-wheeler market in the world. A Statista report suggests that in 2019 more than 21 million motorbikes were sold in the country. While sales figures dropped due to the pandemic, two-wheelers still top the list of vehicles produced in India. The sheer number of two-wheelers plying on the roads can be ascertained by the fact that one in every three households in the country owns these. With its large population size, India will possibly remain a major two-wheeler market; in addition, a two-wheeler is also a means of earning bread-and-butter for many people.
The answer to rising vehicular emissions due to two-wheelers and other vehicle segments lies in their transformation into electric mobility, which promises to reduce the nation’s dependency on crude oil. Especially with two-wheelers, e-scooters and e-bikes have a strong potential for success owing to their limited energy needs. In 2019, the NITI Aayog had published a report that forecast the two-wheeler and three-wheeler segment to be the flag-bearers of electric mobility transformation. It suggested that these two segments would account for more than 80% of the electric vehicle sales in due course of time. A recent ICRA report suggests that electric two-wheelers and three-wheelers would account for 8-10% and 30% market share, respectively, of the total new vehicle sales by 2025.
The automobile sector has been at the receiving end of the global slowdown caused by the contagion; however, the electric vehicle segment continues to witness a piqued interest. The pandemic has made people aware, and they have become inclined towards sustainable solutions such as electric vehicles. Encouraging factors like these indicate that the electric mobility transformation would take place sooner than expected.
By Yatin Gupte
(The author is Chairman & Managing Director, Wardwizard Innovations and Mobility Ltd)
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