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India’s Leap Towards E- Mobility

India’s Leap Towards E- Mobility

Buses have been an integral part of the private and public transportation system in India for decades now. India has over 1.7 million privately owned and 170,000 government owned buses as per 2019 statistics. These figures include all types of buses in India- double deckers, luxury buses, state transportation department buses, CNG and electric buses.

Electric Buses Vs Conventional Buses

With growing carbon emissions and pollution levels in the country, it is integral to learn about advantages of the electric bus system over bus systems that rely on non-renewable fossil fuel.

Buses we are used to seeing on roads such as the state transportation buses are run on diesel and petrol. These buses are responsible for large amounts of GHG emissions in cities and towns. Although states like Delhi have introduced large fleets of CNG buses, which are more sustainable than fossil-fuel run buses, a large number of these buses are poorly maintained and a lack of CNG pumps in Delhi has caused difficulties in running the transportation system effectively.

On the other hand, electric buses are significantly more environmentally friendly as they rely mostly on lithium batteries that need to be charged daily. Electric buses also help in significantly reducing noise and air pollution. On average, an electric bus is 1.4-7.7 times better than a diesel bus in terms of miles per gallon emissions.  Even if one were to consider the total cost of ownership of an electric bus, it is significantly lower than owning a diesel/petrol run bus in the long run.

Recent developments in E-mobility sector

In 2019, the Ministry of Urban Development proposed an INR 250 billion grant for the development of electric public transportation vehicles under the Green Urban Transport Scheme (GUTS). The Government of India has also launched the Faster Adoption of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which enables the central government to assist states in developing electric public transportation networks. The public-private partnership in the electric bus sector will play a pivotal role in the manufacturing of electric buses and achieving the Indian Government’s goal of becoming 100 percent electric in public transport by 2030.

There are several examples of how state governments have tied up with private bus manufacturers: Himachal Pradesh became the first state to launch commercial e-bus operations in 2017 when it sanctioned the acquisition of 50 electric buses for the state. In 2018, the state floated a tender of 220 electric buses that was won by Foton-PMI; New Delhi Government gave a tender to Olectra-BYD and JBM-Solaris to supply electric buses that use 100% clean energy. Lucknow tested over 40 Tata Ultra Electric buses in 2018, each having a range of about 150 kilometers per day. The state of Uttarakhand plans to invest INR 700 crore to bring over 450 electric buses made by Olectra-BYD.

Currently, electric bus sales in India per annum stand at fewer than 2000 units. The electric bus industry is predicted to grow at CAGR 53% between 2019-2025 and witness sales of over 7000 units by 2025. Growth potential for this sector is immense and will require large investment in manufacturing and the development of infrastructure to support electric buses.

For instance, under the FAME scheme, the government plans to set up more fast charging stations in cities that already have electric bus systems in place or are in the process of doing so. Think about this for a second: Even if India is able to convert a small percentage of its bus fleet to electric, we could easily become the second largest electric bus market in the world. This could also provide employment to thousands involved in manufacturing and maintenance work for the electric bus sector.  Moreover, a clean form of bus travel presents tremendous environmental and health benefits too. Lower air pollution levels mean lower case load of respiratory illnesses and lower incidence of smog-like conditions This could be critical in helping India mitigate the environmental damage we’ve caused for the past few decades.

About The Author

Tushaar Sharma

Tushaar is currently pursuing Environmental Science with a minor in Sustainability Sciences from Emory University, Georgia, US. He has been intrigued by environmental systems since a young age but it wasn’t until high school that he realized his passion for the field of sustainability.

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