They often say, “Electric vehicles are the future.” With the right amount of functionality, they are eco-friendly, and hence it is an excellent choice for people. Today, Tesla, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Hyundai, Mahindra, Chevrolet, BMW, and Renault are manufacturing ground-breaking electric vehicles.But do we know about the history of electric vehicles? If not, let us understand where and when these vehicles came into the picture.
The Advent of Electric Vehicles: From Electric Carriage to Electric Cars
Talking about the typical invention of electric cars, the credit goes to many people. In 1828 Anyos Jedlik invented an electric motor, and, using his motor, he created the small electric car. Between 1832 and 1839, Scottish inventor Robert Anderson also developed a crude electric carriage.
In 1996, the first electric vehicle was a three-wheeler, invented by Scooter’s India Pvt Ltd, and it was named VIKRAM SAFA. Approximately 400 vehicles were made and sold. In 2000, BHEL developed an eighteen-seater electric bus, which became popular too. Then approx. 200 electric vans were made and ran in Delhi. But it did not do that well in the market as it required a high cost for the battery and its low life.
Electric vehicles came into existence in the 19th century. Earlier, they did not do that well in the market because of its high cost, low speed, and short-range. So initially, the demand declined worldwide. However, they have been used for transportation and public transport, especially as rail vehicles.
As the concern for the environment increased in the 21st century, gas-powered vehicles emit a lot of smoke and are incredibly harmful to the atmosphere.
Therefore, the interest in electric vehicles increased too. Electric cars were popular among those who used them in the city where their short-range did not prove a disadvantage. Another reason that gave it a boom was that there was no requirement to change the gears, making it an easy option. It did not have vibration sounds or any sound. It did not require a manual start, which was also a plus point.
Due to a lack of power infrastructure, acceptance of electric vehicles was hampered. In a bid to overcome the limited operating range of electric vehicles and the lack of recharging infrastructure, an exchangeable battery service was first proposed in 1896.
In 2007, Hero cycles, in partnership with UK-based ULTRA Motor, launched a series of bikes. These electric bikes became popular among other companies named Electrotherm India, TVS Motor, Hero electric, etc. They are also manufacturing and selling their products. Furthermore, in 2017 Etrio raised over 3 million in funds from HNIs and set out to transform existing fuel-powered commercial vehicles into electric variants, thus benchmarking efficient and eco-friendly transportation.
The significant popularity of electric rickshaws dominated the entire market. In 2016-17 about 500000 e-rickshaws were sold in India. It served as an excellent help for the population to commute daily. The primary use of these rickshaws is in Delhi NCR currently. The government is now rapidly targeting majorly polluted cities to increase the use of electric vehicles. A scheme called FAME, i.e., “Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles in India”, is being launched where a subsidy is being given to 11 cities for launching electric buses, taxis, and e-rickshaws. The targeted cities include Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Jaipur, Mumbai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Indore, and Kolkata, plus two cities – Jammu and Guwahati under a particular category.
The Future of Electric Cars in India
Fast forward to 2021, where companies are working aggressively to develop affordable electric vehicles, with a vision to dispel the notion that electric cars are expensive. For example, E-Trio, an EV company, is working on providing EVs for all in an affordable manner. They focus on cars and other products such as Electric LCV, Electric Bikes, and Electric three-wheelers.
The government in India aims to make arrangements and incentives so that the Battery Electric Vehicles will encourage more people to contribute to 25% of all new vehicle registrations by 2024. Currently, electric vehicles contribute to only 0.29% of the overall registrations in India. For this to happen, a two-prong approach must be set in motion. Firstly, India needs to be genuinely EV-ready by setting up the proper infrastructure and the necessary technology to support electric vehicle manufacturing. Secondly, provisions must be put in place so that the old vehicle can be converted into hybrid electric vehicles through retrofitting to curb the rising pollution levels.