India’s full charge into electric vehicles

Thousands to hop onto electric vehicles in India by 2021. Source: Shutterstock.

IN THREE YEARS, thousands of people in India could enjoy riding in electric vehicles (EVs).

Or at least that’s the goal of Ola.

For the uninitiated, Bangalore-based Ola is an online transportation network company and Uber’s fiercest Indian competitor.

Having expanded to a network of 800,000 vehicles with over a million drivers across 110 cities in India including Delhi, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Jaipur, just to name a few, the company is now speeding ahead of Uber in the country.

Under its “Mission: Electric” sustainability initiative, Ola plans to roll out 10,000 electric three-wheeled rickshaws and a million battery-powered vehicles in three years.

“Three-wheelers are a vital means of transportation and a source of livelihood for millions of people every day,” Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.

“It also represents an immediate opportunity to improve outcomes for all stakeholders while reducing pollution across towns and cities.”

Why is pushing out EVs onto the roads in India a good call?

In her recent report about living and working in India, ABC News‘ South Asia correspondent Siobhan Heanue wrote, “..I had no idea the most hostile thing I would encounter upon moving to India would be the air I’d have to breathe every day.”

“Within a week of moving to Delhi, the first signs of trouble started to show. I would wake up in the middle of the night with my throat on fire. I’d lay awake for hours unable to soothe the pain.”

News stories have also likened breathing the air in India to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

In November 2017, Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal commented on the metropolitan area’s air pollution levels, calling it a “gas chamber”.

“Air pollution surged so high that some monitoring stations reported an Air Quality Index of 999, way above the upper limit of the worst category, Hazardous,” Vox wrote.

EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute positively to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles, thus helping keep the air clean. This is particularly important for the world’s second-most populous nation which sees 53,700 vehicles registered across the country every day.

Is this the only Asian country to welcome EVs?

Unsurprisingly, China has also warmed up to the idea, being the world’s most populous country and also one that has been famously tackling severe pollution problems.

In fact, according to estimates from the World Health Organization, air pollution is responsible for more than one million deaths per year in China.

Source: Shutterstock.

Other Asian countries that are entering the EVs era include Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.