We Indians are a very adjustable bunch. Adjustment is the key trait, the essential thread of our society. History is a witness and tells us how we adjusted with Britishers, Turks, Corrupt Politicians; how we took a slight shift to Pizza and Pasta’s from our Chapattis and Dosas; how we shifted from handwritten letters to the internet, etc. The list goes on and on. Today, we are at another turn of collective human civilization. With depleting natural resources and soaring prices of fuel, we are moving towards more sustainable ways for our day-to-day transport to offices, schools, or other places. We looked at LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) as options before, but then again, they are not really sustainable for a long time. And now we have EV or electric vehicles.
We even sought the power of the Sun, to charge our car batteries through Solar panels attached to the roof of the car. We looked at many options, like those small 2-seater cars that were made long ago (80’s kids would remember). However, the geographical location of our country is such that many days there would be no Sun at all, owing to Monsoon rains or foggy winters. This makes the whole thing a bit problematic.
But as we all know, necessity gives birth to invention, and the shift of the world towards Electric Vehicles, or EV, has become inevitable. Charge the batteries over a period of some hours, or overnight as we do our phones, and ride your EV for many kilometers, even a whole day. Of course, the top speed in many of these is pretty slow in comparison, but hey, the money you save overshadows the whole time issue. Also, this might give us a reason for the late-lateefi of us Indians collectively, commonly known as Indian Standard Time.
But ever wondered how India would look like after, let’s say, around 70% of people shift to EV? What would be our challenges and our strengths? What would be our problems and our 'Jugaad's' to solve those problems? As complicated as it is, it directs us straight to the very first line you read. Yes, the ‘adjustment’ card will play amazingly well here.
With my seer-goggles, I can see chai-walas and the corner paan-wala stalls with a universal charging point for any and all EV pretty soon, obviously made in China. Some would make it mandatory to order at least two things while charging, maybe at a lower price or some other offer. ‘Chai-Sutta’ (Tea-Smoke break) could give you 15 minutes of charging, FREE! FREE!! FREE!!!
There could be charging docks, placed by many companies in all different places around the city. The prices to charge could be different, based on the speed of charging like normal charging, fast charging, Ultra-fast charging, Rapid Charging (a real thing, look it up). Some boutique charging places would crop up, giving full detailing/cleaning of your vehicle while it gets charged, with one-hour charging prices based on how posh the shop is, and where is it located.
In the inner roads, towns, and suburbs of many crowded cities, like Delhi, I can easily imagine people putting a taanka (hooks) on one of those power cords passing above, and stealing the electricity from the government to make some quick cash. Just a simple case of re-utilization of electricity, that’s all!
There would be specialized parking lots, where people living in the nearby area can park their cars at night, plugged in and safe from rain, dust, theft, etc. Delhi already has some places where the parking spaces are very few; people have used their lands to open private parking lots, charging them by the month. Of course, they would have to shell out quite a bit of money per month, but more service requires more expenditure.
There would also be jugaads to charge the EV battery while a person is on the road, traveling from one town/city to the next. The simplest option is to keep multiple pre-charged batteries in the boot of the car, and change the battery or use a power bank or something. Eventually, some desi engineer could find a way to use the movement of the tires, or something to the same effect, to somehow charge the drained battery. One could just use, reuse and change the battery whenever required. If that’s not self-sustaining, I don’t know what is.
Remember when during Covid, no one was coming out and everyone was staying at home because of lockdown, the sky became so clear that we could see mountains from pretty far-off places. As there would be little to no petrol/diesel engine cars on roads, and hence no pollution, we could see the mountains every day during our commute to the office, filling us with the strength to slave off another day to save enough for our trip to the Himalayas, which will still not happen. Just admit it already.
One good thing might happen. For the boys and girls of India, who have never really gotten the taste of freedom from our helicopter parents, this could be a ray of shining light. As there is little to no noise from the EV, they could easily sneak in and out of their houses, without even their parents knowing what happened. Parents would think the kid is upstairs, winning a game! While their kid is doing wheelies on empty streets of Bangalore, at Dhoom-Macha-De speeds of 35KM/hr. Hell yeah, Adrenaline!
But not all parents, for many of them would become smarter. Some of them would have an Apple tag, or a Jio tag (I’m sure Reliance will make this soon) stuck to the car somewhere. Any movement of the tag on GPS could alert the parents, a jealous partner, or an angry wife about the whereabouts of the EV, and the driver along with. Drama ensues, let me get some popcorn!
All newly constructed houses in developed towns and cities would have a charging plug right in the front porch, to charge while they are washing their new iBullets, E-Thars, or E-Landi jeeps. I can imagine Jassi listening to the legendary songs of Gurdas ‘Legend’ Mann, fun-loving songs of Diljeet ‘Cute’ Singh, or Gangsta rap of Siddhu ‘Dil-Da-Ni-Maada’ Moosey Wala.
Some goons would love the whole electric bike issue, for in India so far there is no registration for those EV with a top speed of 25kmph. So, although kids and underage teens could use them, chances are these goons will too. And how are you going to catch them, sans number plate? You could run and catch them, but that's another story.
Businesses would start and shift to accommodate this change, for sure. Big names like Exide, Tata, Maruti, et al already are leading in this space from India. With a whopping Rs 200 Million investment in India's maiden technology hub to develop lithium-ion cells, company Amara Raja is leading all these companies in battery exports.
There are many pros and cons to getting on the bandwagon of EV, all the while intimidating as well. Would our people, including you and me, accept the whole change readily? Will this new revolution end our petroleum price issues? Or is this going to fizzle out in the Sun, after creating a big hype and a lot of fuss?
In my opinion, it’s already started, and picking up rapidly. It’s here, whether you like it or not. So, get your checkbook ready and loosen those purse strings, for I trust the time is nigh and the Sun is shining on the technology that is EV.