india air pollution

Indian Government to mandate rapid electrification of Uber-style taxi services

Image credit: reuters

Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Ola will need to convert at least 40 per cent of their car fleet to electric vehicles by 2026 in India, according to leaked plans seen by Reuters.

According to a source and records of government meetings, the services would need to achieve 2.5 per cent electrification by 2021, 5 per cent by 2022, 10 per cent by 2023 before hiking it to 40 per cent after that date.

A 2018 study found that the services tended to increase congestion, and therefore pollution, in cities that use them as they were favoured by people over other, less polluting, modes of transport such as walking, cycling and public transit services. 

The Indian Government’s plans may be difficult to achieve for the firms, as the electric vehicle infrastructure is largely lacking in the country. Ola has previously attempted to operate electric cars in India before abandoning plans precisely because of this.

In a meeting in New Delhi last month, officials from the think-tank Niti Aayog, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the ministries of road transport, power, renewable energy and steel, as well as the departments of heavy industries and trade, were among those recommending taxi operators in India gradually convert to electric.

They also recommended that all new cars sold for commercial use should only be electric from April 2026.

India faces serious air pollution problems, especially in heavily populated areas, and has a need to cut its carbon output to align itself with international goals on climate change. Last November, the air quality around New Delhi was so bad that it breached WHO limits for particulate matter several times over. 

EV sales in India grew three-fold to 3,600 in the year ended March 2019, but still account for only about 0.1 per cent of the 3.3 million diesel and gasoline cars sold in the country over the period, industry data showed.

Motorcycles and scooters sold for commercial purposes, such as food delivery or for use by e-commerce companies, will also need to be electric from April 2023, the person added.

India has seen a boom in food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy, which counts Naspers and Tencent as investors. Sales by e-commerce firms such as Amazon.com and Walmart-owned Flipkart are also rising.

The committee has also suggested a plan to gradually introduce electric buses within cities, with 5 per cent of the fleet electric by 2023, rising to 30 per cent by 2026. Thereafter, all new city buses would need to be electric.

The EV proposal comes weeks after the inter-ministerial committee recommended electrifying most motorbikes and scooters for private use and all three-wheeled autorickshaws within the next six to eight years.

E&T recently looked at a number of different tactics that were being employed in India to bring its air pollution problem under control

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