CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a published in The New Indian Express on Electric vehicles.

As going sustainable becomes the mantra, electric vehicles become the future. While everyone, from governments to NGOs, bats for e-vehicles, the latest being the limit set on its one-time tax to five per cent, has Kochi warmed up to the concept? Not really.

According to the data available with the Motor Vehicles Department, there is no aggressive demand for e-vehicles in the city. While 2018 saw 37 BOV (battery-operated vehicles) registering within the city limits, the figure dropped to 33 in 2019. This year, seven vehicles have registered so far.According to an official with Popular, dealers of Hyundai electric car KONA in Kochi, they have managed to sell 27 vehicles since last August, when it was launched in Kochi.

“A lot of enquiries do come in, but the vehicle is priced over Rs 25 lakh. Initially, the on-road price was over 30 lakh, which is clearly above a middle-class customer’s budget. People had apprehensions about its capacity too, due to the popular perception of electric vehicles lacking power. Now that the tax limit is set at 5 per cent, the price has fallen to Rs 26 lakh, so we expect sales to catch up,” says Sarath Babu, marketing executive, Popular Hyundai.

Meanwhile, D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Research, thinks one reason for the poor sale of e-vehicle is the lack of affordable options.“As in the car segment, it is priced too high. The fact that it is an evolving technology too pushes away prospective customers. People know better options will come in the future. So, they prefer to wait and watch. They don’t want to be investing in something that hasn’t been getting great reviews yet,” he adds.

Though Kochi Metro Rail came up with electric autos, very few private parties have bought the same in Kochi. According to Georgekutty Karyanapally, president, Kerala Electric Vehicles Dealers Association, people are prejudiced towards innovative ideas. “Potential customers express apprehensions over everything from battery to charging facilities. Not many are open to accepting changes and innovation. The attitude of banks and authorities aren’t encouraging either. No bank is willing to provide loans to prospective buyers. So, how can people who buy e-autos afford them?” asks Georgekutty.  
The high cost of lithium batteries, which has better longevity, is another deterrent. “The government too should take an initiative. They should ensure charging stations and proper marketing techniques,” he adds.

Is e-vehicle a sustainable solution?

While electric vehicles are being mooted as a green solution, debates rage over how sustainable they are. According to Dhanuraj, over time and advancement of technology, electric vehicles will become cheaper which will encourage its sale all over the world. “Electric cars will flood our roads, which will require better infrastructure like roads. Pollution will only increase. That won’t clearly be a sustainable solution. So, the focus should rather be on long-term solutions, like better public transport facilities. Moreover, the electric buses plying in the city have proved to be non-profitable. This debate is raging all over the world,” says Dhanuraj.

This article was published in The New Indian Express on February 12, 2020 click to read

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