Electricity for thought

Petrol prices are coming down, well, it is not exactly cheap, but it is comparatively not as expensive as it used to be. My being the person who gets bored very easily, I was thinking about how much more people spent in the last couple of months when fuel prices were high.

The conclusion was alarming and it was then I got to thinking, what if I had an electric bike to drive every day to work and kept my fossil fuel powered bike for the weekends?

The results were amazing. If you, on an average travel 30 km per day, say you have a bike that returns 60 kmpl, it means you spend realistically a litre of petrol every day. That is in today’s money around Rs 77 (or Rs 76.88 for those who are politically correct).

So, on an average, a working person needs to shell out Rs 77 every two days. In the need for fairness, let’s talk only about the costs to get to office and return. Many offices give expenses for work travel and so, that is excluded.

Fuel costs are sure to burn a hole in a person’s pocket if their office is situated on the outskirts of the city and that is not fair.

So, I got thinking… what if they used an electric vehicle for their commute to and from work? For instance, electricity is far cheaper than either petrol or diesel. The costs can be well contained. I reckon it will be around only 10 per cent to the actual costs of today.

People can save money that normally goes for fuel, using which they can buy whatever they please – maybe go for lunch, or a small vacation in their fossil fuel vehicle and burn the money they saved.

But if one wants to do that it can’t be done today. There is a firm called Emflux Motors that makes electric bikes. But they are out of reach for an average Indian biker in terms of buying costs. Other alternatives do not exist as of now.

The other factor is the infrastructure. It is the harsh reality that electricity supply is poor in our country. Recent inventions in electric vehicle technology demand a higher voltage system, a 480V or an 880V charging stations for faster recharging. I do not know of any such public charging station that is available today.

What’s more, it is the way electricity is produced that worries me. What these environmental activists who smirk the moment they see a good bike do not tell openly is that electric vehicles are equally polluting compared to their traditional counterparts.

For sure, no smoke comes out of the exhaust pipe, but the damage is already done to this blue planet we call ‘Earth’, by the time the vehicle rolls out of the production line. Just imagine the mining, processing of chemicals, shipping batteries and the power needed for all that apart from the detrimental effects that come as byproducts from traditional production methods.

To counter the charging problems, new startups are tearing their brains out to instal a charging grid. But I think the government should do it instead. Why? Because it is a gold mine and the money will directly go to its coffers rather than to some corporate.

But the most important thing that the government should do, but won’t do, is making electricity in a way Johnny polar bear and his children are happy. If that day comes, I will be the first in the queue to buy an electric vehicle.

Look at it this way, we all like eating food that is presented in a wonderful and classy way in a good restaurant. But, would you eat it if you get to know that it was made in an unhealthy manner? Fuel for thought or is it electricity?

Praveen Kumar S