James Newcomb, MD, Rocky Mountain Institute, a US-based non-profi t research organisation, tells Chanchal Pal Chauhan why India is at the cusp of an electric mobility transformation.
Q. How poised is India to meet its future mobility needs?
India can meet its mobility demand by focusing on delivering access to mobility, as opposed to traditional pathways that rely on private vehicle ownership. India can demonstrate its automotive manufacturing prowess by unlocking the competitive advantage of electric vehicles (EVs), lowering operating costs and opening up new export markets. While clean and efficient automobiles play an important role, meeting demand with diverse modes, including walking and cycling, will help manage local air pollution and congestion issues.
Q. How feasible is it for India to achieve a fully electric fleet by 2030?
Whether it reaches its goal in 2030 or a few years later, India need not wait 15 years to begin realising the benefits. India has the opportunity to engage first-time vehicle buyers to choose electric options and, due to relatively lower per-capita vehicle ownership, isn't as constrained with the burden of early vehicle retirement as other nations.
Q. How realistic is your estimate that electric and shared vehicle adoptions could lead to $60-billion saving in diesel and petrol by 2030?
Our model suggests India can save $60 billion in 2030 alone. Cumulative petrol and diesel savings are even more striking - $330 billion between 2017 and 2030 (conservatively, assuming a fixed price of $52/bbl). These savings are attainable, and do not represent the full potential of the transportation sector, as the model only accounts for passenger mobility. Substantial opportunities also exist in commercial transport and better urban design.