Automobile industry veteran and Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava believes electric cars are necessary for India because we cannot continue to grow our requirements for crude oil, petrol, diesel
The question around 'electric' is no more if but when. As cry for a more modern technology and a lifestyle that’s sustainable gets louder, governments are left with little choice but to implement ideas that meet those demands from the people. Automobile industry veteran and an institution in himself, Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava, believes the situation would become untenable as more and more people take to wheels.
“Electric cars are in principle absolutely necessary for India because we cannot continue to grow our requirements for crude oil, petrol, diesel and these will grow rapidly as more and more people want wheels for their personal transportation and, therefore, if we do nothing about it, I think the situation will become untenable from the point of view of our energy dependence on a few countries abroad,” he told Moneycontrol.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has blown hot and cold over his plan to have sales of only electric cars in India from 2030.
Automobile manufacturers in the country sold 3.04 million four-wheeled passenger vehicles locally and 17.58 million two-wheelers, according to data available on the website of industry lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
The Indian passenger car market is currently growing at an average of 8 percent. Noting that only 5,000 electric cars were sold in India last year, the task is surely daunting, not ignoring the fact that the Narendra Modi government’s commitment to the environment protection is stronger than many of advanced countries.
Bhargava said there could not be a real dispute to the objective of the government given the “kind of foreign exchange that is required” and its impact on the environment.
“Now the target of 2030 has been fixed by the government and I think the government has done that to bring home to everybody the urgency of the need for everybody to go electric and also the government has left nobody in doubt about their seriousness of intent in implementing this policy which, I think, are very welcome things because clarity of policy, firmness of purpose are things which industry welcomes from the government,” he said.
The shift to ‘electric’ is unarguably a recent phenomenon. But one that has now crept into our daily lives is that of cab aggregators, obviating the need for many to own a private vehicle. The onslaught of cab aggregators in the last five years has added to the inflection point the automobile industry finds itself at today. But Bhargava sees good in that as well.
“What cab aggregators will do and what they are doing is that they are bringing a more economical way of transporting people in cars and when you have a more economical method of transportation -- in comfort, in safety -- which is what cars offer compared to two-wheelers – people, who can’t afford to own a car of their own because it is too costly, will still use a car for journeys where they have to take their family because they can do that and they can afford to do that using cab aggregators," he said.
Bhargava’s reasoning is simple. He said while a common car user drove the vehicle for 8,000 to 10,000 kms a year, a vehicle with a cab aggregator rode anywhere between 60,000 kms and 100,000 kms in a year.“So, the usage of a vehicle is much higher. The number of people using a cab becomes much higher. And that’s all good for us. So I welcome cab aggregators,” he said, adding, “If something improves the economics of the customer, it has to be good for the manufacturer. The more value you give to the customer, the more value you get in your company,” he said.