Electric Cars; you might have seen them a lot in the news lately. Tesla, the American EV company is finally entering the country after what felt like a really long wait. Now it seems as if electric cars are all people talk about.
When it comes to EVs, it is not just Tesla who is here to bring in a revolution. Almost every car manufacturer is onboard, researching and developing sustainable electric vehicles to replace the century-old fossil-fuel propelled cars. Speaking of Tesla, they are expected to launch their Model 3 and Model Y in India in the near future. Even our home-grown Mahindra has the E2O on the road. This year, this Indian carmaker has got more for us with electric cars like XUV300 EV and eKUV100 set to hit the market.
With vehicular emissions posing an immediate threat to our environment, the electric vehicle emerges as the best possible solution to this problem. Electric cars provide a cleaner alternative to the gas-powered vehicles and are a key driver towards a sustainable future.
Electric cars were introduced as a replacement for conventional petrol or diesel cars. These types of vehicles utilise an AC or DC motor for propulsion using energy stored in rechargeable batteries. Electric vehicles produce zero emissions and therefore are better for the environment.
Types of Electric Cars
Are all the electric vehicles the same? Not really! There are 3 major classes of electric cars. We classify them based on how much electricity they use to run. So look at the kinds of electric cars we have-
Battery Electric Vehicle
Also called an All-Electric Vehicle, it is the quintessential electric cars in its form. It operates exclusively on electricity. These run on a limited charge range and require charging via a charging outlet. Electric cars have no tailpipe emissions and replace petrol with electricity. Hence they are the greenest cars available.
Tata Altroz EV slated to release this year is one such all-electric car. But unlike the EVs of the yesteryears cars like Tata Nexon EV or Altroz EV of 2021 are expected to have a whopping range of 300 kilometres or more.
Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor and a large rechargeable battery. Unlike conventional hybrids, PHEVs can be plugged-in and recharged from an outlet, allowing us to drive extended distances using just electricity. When the battery is drained, the conventional engine turns on, and the vehicle operates like a traditional, non-plug-in hybrid. In the country, top PHEV version of cars like Toyota Prius start from 45 lakh onwards.
Conventional Hybrid Vehicles
Hybrids, similar to PHEVs, have an internal combustion engine along with an electric motor and battery. By using both a conventional engine and an electric motor, hybrids achieve significantly better fuel efficiency than their non-hybrid counterparts. Compared to a car that runs solely on an IC engine, Hybrids pollute less. They also save the driver’s money by using less fuel.
Hybrids utilise features like Idle-off, Power Assist to conserve fuel. Unlike BEVs and PHEVs, Hybrids cannot be recharged from an outlet. However, Hybrid car put their IC engines to work to charge their battery. Additionally features like Regenerative Braking revives the car battery by transforming the kinetic energy of the moving vehicle.
Why Electric Cars?
Why not? It’s clean, it’s green and it’s mean.
- Electric cars require less TLC. There’s no need for oil changes and owing to electric motors which have far less moving parts, an EV requires relatively less maintenance compared to an ICE vehicle. Most of the maintenance costs associated with an internal combustion engine are thus eliminated.
- EVs can also reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and cause ecological damage. If there are a lot of electric cars on the road there would be very little smog, improving public health. They are a breakthrough towards greener mobility.
- Electrics are fast! Electric Vehicles generate near-instant torque, which translates to extremely fast acceleration and a “light” or “zippy” feel compared to conventional ICE cars.
- Considering long-term usage, electric vehicles provide a pocket-friendly mode of transportation. Besides electricity is cheaper than petrol. So if you hear petrol prices rising again you can just turn off the news and take your EV out for a drive.
- There was a time electric cars used to be expensive. But, things have changed a lot. Compact electric SUVs like Mahindra eKUV is puts conventional vehicles to shame at an expected starting price of 8.25 lakhs. Therefore, these days, we don’t even have to make that ginormous initial investment to own an EV.
Are Electric Cars Really Green?
Well, here’s the catch…. the concept of electric cars might sound lucrative and feasible, but there is a lot more to it than that.
An electric car runs on rechargeable batteries that require electricity. The primary source of this very electricity is traced back to Thermal Power Plants, which uses coal to generate electricity. We should not forget that coal is a non-renewable natural resource. It takes a couple of million years for coal to form. This means if all the coal is used up, we have to get by without coal. And that won’t be easy.
Are electric cars greener then? Not if you consider the emission from well-to-wheel and not just tailpipe exhaust. The main source of pollution in EVs is due to the current power generation process. With 60-70% coal-based power generation in India, producing electricity is putting a big dent on sustainability. This means if we don’t make use of potential resources like solar or wind energy to generate power, EVs might not prove to be as eco-friendly as we think they are.
Another issue with EVs is the batteries. Most modern electric cars use Li-ion or Lithium-Ion type batteries. Lithium-ion cells also rely on a limited supply of rare-earth metals, which are extremely environmentally hazardous to mine. Therefore, steps have to be taken to recycle these Li-ion batteries, to reduce wastage and to ensure sustainability in the long run.
Electric Cars in India!
Concretising its commitment at the Paris Climate Change Meet, India has pledged to make a significant shift towards electric vehicles by 2030. India unveiled the ‘National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020’ in 2013 to further give the EV trend a push. The Government of India also started the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme which provides incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.
In 2021 we will see a lot of electric cars on the road. Here are a couple of EVs that decorate the long list-
- Mahindra eKUV
- BMW i3
- Jaguar I-Pace
- Audi e-tron
- Nissan Leaf
- Porshe Taycan
But, even with all these, India also has its fair share of challenges on the way.
As of now, the conditions aren’t very favourable for EVs. The primary issue being inadequate charging infrastructure, which is the toughest challenge regarding service integration for India.
Complete Electric Mobility would remain a pipe dream if we don’t have adequate charging stations for electric cars.
Tesla, the EV giant, cited “challenging government regulations” as the reason why it did not venture into India until this year.
But the future is golden for electric cars. With Tesla setting up an R and D facility in Bengaluru and registering itself in the country as Tesla India Motors, we have huge expectations for electric mobility. With great leaps in tech, EVs are only getting better and more sustainable. If things go the way they do, then sooner than later IC engines would become a thing of the past.
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