Electric cars are becoming more and more popular every year. There is, of course, the growing concerns about the environment that is driving a lot of these sales. But that’s not all. The fact that electric cars are cheaper to run in the long term is also helping push sales, as well as the fact that they’re becoming more stylish all the time. In fact, this year, which has seen declining car sales for the majority of car companies in the U.S., Tesla Motors has been one of the only companies who have stood firmly and experienced growth regardless.
But let’s face it: when we breathe in the air in places like the United States, or the United Kingdom, or Germany, or Australia, we’re usually fairly sure that the air isn’t as poisonous as many hardcore environmentalists like to claim. And sure, the air isn’t perfect, but there are loads of places in these countries where fresh, clean air is replete.
In India, however, things are quite different. A Greenpeace report released in January – titled, perhaps unsubtly, ‘Airpocalypse’ – shows that air pollution in India is reaching critical levels at a national level. It states that 1.2 million Indians are being killed by air pollutions every year.So it’s perhaps unsurprising that India’s energy minister recently revealed a plan to make every car in India electric by 2030.How are they going to do it?
Judging by the plans that India’s minister of energy and minister of coal and mines have discussed, it would appear that they aim is to make sure every car sold in India, starting from 2030, will be electric. This is very different indeed to making every car in India electric by 2030, so there seems to be a slight disconnect between their grand claim and the more detailed version; two different results are being advertised here.
Their coal and mines minister, Piyush Goyal, has stated that this plan will be put into place by giving the electric car industry in India a lot of government assistance; at least two or three years worth of subsidies. The hope would be that consumer demand would be sufficient by 2030 to get the electric auto industry running on its own.As for the non-electric cars that are currently out there? There’s no word on what they’re going to do about that. Again, the aim, by 2030 seems to be to ensure car sold in India will be electric; this is different to what’s being implied by headlines and certain quotes, which is that every car running in India will be electric by that time!Is it feasible?This is difficult to say. As Goyal has implied, the electric auto industry will need there to be demand for electric cars. If the government has to keep the industry afloat for decades using subsidies – a.k.a. taxpayer money – then there will be several problems down the road, not least the fact that taxpayers may start to resent the move.Another problem here is that India has a bunch of other national problems that they were supposed to have fixed by now. Electricity isn’t that widespread in India, which certainly creates a problem when it comes to, y’know, electriccars. There’s also the fact that so many there who don’t earn a lot of money. Unless there’s an outright ban on the second-hand sale of regular cars (about which nothing has been confirmed), then it’s difficult to see that many people preferring to pay full price for an electric car over a heavily discounted price for a used gas car.How bad is the problem here?Thankfully, the vast majority of new cars are built to very high environmental standards, and the industries building these cars are making a lot of effort to reduce their emissions, too. The same regulations simply aren’t being applied in India. While people have made many (often legitimate and understandable) complaints about the air quality in the west, there’s simply no comparing the two problems.In any case, it’s certainly not bad enough that politicians are making grand pushes to replace gas cars with electric ones. The increase in popularity of electric cars seems to be happening rather organically, and this is being boosted by the amount of affluence in places such as the United States. Having such widespread electricity also helps matters greatly. More car companies are entering the electric motor market all the time. Even General Motors unveiled their entry into the field a couple of years back.Are electric cars really that much better?The thing we should really be asking ourselves is how much difference an electric car really makes. And the truth is that the difference may not be as substantial as many believe, although it’s certainly significant. For example, we still have to recall that approximately half (and possibly more) of all the electricity in the United States is generated from coal. Switching to electricity doesn’t eradicate the use of nonrenewable resources. We would have to start generating electricity from renewable resources on a very wide scale to make the sort of difference a lot of people advertise.When it comes to the benefit to the consumer, there are certainly loads of those. Let’s face it: gas prices are getting more troubling all the time, with the average price of gas these days being around 12 to 20 cents per mile. Most electric cars cost less than five cents per mile to operate. Of course, you also have to consider the fact that their batteries take hours to charge, and that the range of travel you can reach usually won’t exceed 150 miles in one trip.It really is a case of working out what you need from a car. As long as you’re careful about your purchases and your fuel economy, new cars that aren’t electric can still be pretty friendly to the environment. The entire issue is a lot more complex than the critics on both sides of the environmental issue would have you believe. At any rate, at least we’re not poisoning our air on as grand a scale as many other countries.