A lot has been spoken about the government’s sudden affinity towards ‘green’ vehicles. The smoldering fire burst into a small flame after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took it upon herself to impose more duty on petrol and diesel. She said it had to be done so that people will adopt electric vehicles and also because the government is spending too much on importing crude from elsewhere, for India does not produce, or rather drill and mine, its own fossil fuel.
But the fact remains that the government earns (from the citizens) more than what it pays for importing the oily stuff. A simple calculation proves that the government poses at least three to four times the money in taxes (again, on citizens) for a litre of petrol or diesel than what petroleum firms ask. They drill it out, ship it, refine it and yet sell it for a tenner and the government sees it fit to impose taxes upon taxes without doing anything, other than, allowing the fuel to be sold in the country.
I do not want to rant about how useless India’s electric vehicle infrastructure is, nor do I want to say the government is wrong to increase fuel prices without insight and foresight, for I have already done it. I just want to pose a few circumstances and that is all.
Recently, Honda gave the European media, a taste of what its ‘E’ electric hatchback could offer. The small car with a little over 35kWh and a range of 200 kilometres was a revelation, claimed a few mediapersons. It is light, they said and raved about the car that has not gone into production yet. But crucially, the car is rear-wheel drive. It could only mean one thing then. Somehow, with the elimination of IC engines, carmakers decided that the best way to balance weight in an electric car is to put the motor in the back. The by product? Well, it is jolly good to drive.
It is something no government would have thought about. For years, governments sought about taking away happiness from drivers and made rules that forced cars into becoming a heavy front-wheel drive mess. But with electric cars, it is the return of the olden-golden days again and I bet they did not think about it.
Another causality of adopting electric architecture would be the growth of road racing. Think about it, in a country like India where there are more youth than the elderly, driving over the speed limit is a common issue. With electric cars offering supreme traction and power from the get-go, for many, standing at the lights will be like waiting for a race to start. The government has to now invest in a lot of speed cameras. Again, I bet…!
One more thing that will happen are accidents. EVs are not impervious to accidents like the lawmakers would like to think and when they do, a whole new problem will arise. You see the Finance Minister and her peers might be good at calculations, but she must consult a person who knows a bit about chemistry and how batteries work.
When a Lithium-ion battery pack starts to burst into flames, there is no stopping it, for all the cells are interconnected, meaning it will keep bursting for hours before it stops. So, if an electric car is on fire on a road, the government has to stop traffic from moving and close the road altogether until it dies consuming itself, which could take several hours. I bet…uh, you know what I mean.
Then there is charging. With the government wanting people to buy e-scooters and e-bikes, think about the number of people who would queue up at such a station and wait for 30-odd minutes to get their turn to charge their vehicles. The line would be a mile long full of angry motorists because their milk float went out of juice.
And finally, think about the number of owners who would want to scrap their old petrol or diesel-powered car. People in the millions would want the government’s grant (there will be one potentially) for crushing their car and adopting a new EV, all at the same time. Where will the government go for all that money? Maybe, finally they will accept Vijay Mallya’s offer and pay people off.
I do not want to talk about the fact that India is not self-sufficient in producing its own electricity. I do not want to discuss about the fact that electric cars are not green because they are run using power made by burning coal. I do not want to rant about the fact that batteries do not last very long and I absolutely will not talk about the fact that people, in the end and as always, will be the victims. No…no, I will not speak about that no matter how much I am asked about it.