Energy Solutions For Sustainable Mobility In The Domestic Market

Akshay completed BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology and wanted to provide sustainable energy sources to the world. He started Greenfuel and is fulfilling his dream.

The worldwide shift to greener and more sustainable technologies, particularly in the area of mobility, is well underway. The Indian market too has been gearing up for this shift and the time is ripe for an acceleration of pace in this direction.

While following general global trends, there are some ways in which the Indian market presents aunique case. Here, I present a segment-wise approach as follows:

Two & Three Wheelers: Electric­ LITHIUM ION
One of the key distinctions of the Indian market for green mobility is that unlike in more developed countries, in India, 80 percent of the market is made up of two & three wheelers as modes of transport.

In the two-wheeler market, where a typical vehicle is not driven for more than 40 kilometers a day on average, the time is ripe for electrification. This can be a safe, reliable, greener and more cost-effective alternative to the existing ICE2 wheelers in the market.

Three-wheelers already present a very unique economic value proposition for deliveries and passengers for last mile connectivity and can thus be offered for these purposes in their electric avatar. The star prospect here is the e-rickshaw market, with a vast presence of 1.6 million already on the road and about 11,000 added every month.

In the Indian context, the widespread adoption of hydrogen cell technology will take time due to the high up-front costs, but it is definitely going to be a game changer in the clean mobility market in the long run

The combined market for two-wheelers and three-wheelers offers an exciting proposition for electric mobility solutions for urban India, both for daily commuting as well as last mile delivery fleets. A range of business models could potentially address this vast market, from leasing to battery swapping, scooter-sharing, and outright ownership. The scope for innovation in this area is endless, and more innovative solutions will help in greater penetration of EVs in the given segment.

Passenger Cars: Alternative Gas Fuels ­ CNG
For the passenger car segment I believe at the moment CNG vehicles are a great alternative due to the presence of existing infrastructure for refueling, lower running costs as well as being environment-friendly.

In terms of fueling infrastructure, India will have 5000 CNG stations by the year 2025 ­ up from approximately 1700 CNG stations today. This in itself will give a huge impetus to the adoption of CNG vehicles, as the convenience of refueling on the go is a strong deciding factor in the decision to switch to green mobility. Moreover, CNG vehicles are affordable and have a lower capital cost of acquisition than electric vehicles.

In addition to this, I also envision that electrification of passenger vehicles in the form hybrids and EV's will become popular in the longer term, primarily driven by CAFÉ Norms set to be enforced from 2023 onwards. However, alternative gas vehicles will remain a very popular option to petrol and diesel tillthen.

Large Commercial Vehicles: Alternative Gas Fuels ­CNG, LNG and HYDROGEN
The commercial vehicle sector will definitely see more CNG vehicles on the road in the Indian context, especially for urban medium distance and heavy load transport in the 4 ton to 11 ton segment.

For larger trucks, LNG and hydrogen will play a very important role in the future. Worldwide, hydrogen is rapidly gaining popularity as a green fuel for heavy duty trucks. Daimler has recently formed a venture for hydrogen fuel cell trucks, and Hyundai is already in the market offering fuel cell buses. Nikola Motors is an excellent example of a company specializing exclusively in trucks running on hydrogen fuel cells, with the vision of replicating the iconic status of Tesla with fuel cell based heavy vehicles in the commercial trucking segment.

In the Indian context, the widespread adoption of hydrogen cell technology will take time due to the high up-front costs, but it is definitely going to be a game changer in the clean mobility market in the long run.

In the medium term, liquefied natural gas (LNG) for long distance trucks will become important as it offers excellent return on investment even though the upfront cost is high. LNG offers the ability to carry more energy with less weight. This of course must be supported by LNG stations across the highways to encourage trucks to ply on this fuel.

The unique characteristics of the Indian market demand custom-designed mobility solutions. There is enormous scope here for innovators and venture capitalists taking the lead by offering outside the box solutions and setting new trends.

Reshaping the landscape of the Indian market for sustainable mobility will naturally be a step-by-step, market-responsive and segment-specific exercise that will not be achieved overnight. The Indian CV +industry will have to keep up with future trends happening at the global level, lest in the clean and greenera of the future, even legacy companies will find themselves being left behind.