ELECTRIC CARS ARE COMING. Actually, electric cars are already here. With stricter emission laws driving manufacturers to make cleaner engines, many have turned toward investing in the future after fossil fuels. And electric cars in India have come a long way since the days of the Reva, which wasn’t large enough to house two full-sized humans and didn’t have the range to get you back home from the office. It was however, a great first attempt with the technology back then and it was an all-Indian effort. Fast forward to 2021 and we have shiny, practical and more importantly, cool electric vehicles from two Indian manufacturers — Tata Motors and Ather Energy. But is India ready for EVs? Are they fun? And, should you go out and buy one? Before I answer that, let’s familiarise ourselves with the vehicles.
Tata Motors had a simple idea when they launched the Nexon EV, to convince families who were on the verge of buying an electric car, to actually go out and buy that EV. To do so, Tata Motors made some very wise decisions early on in the development stage. Basing their first mass-market EV on the Nexon was smart — it keeps in with the SUV-crazy trend while also being the perfect package for a city commuter. The design is very similar to the standard ICE-Nexon, except for the subtle blue accents and the green number plates your Nexon EV would be wearing. And it also retains the Nexon’s practicality, which has been one of its strong points. They also knew it had to be affordable. At ₹13.99 lakh, it is ₹2 lakh more than the standard Nexon but more importantly, it is substantially more affordable than the Hyundai Kona Electric and the MG ZS EV. Those are the only other zero-emission options this side of ₹1 crore in our market, as of today.
On the other hand, we have the Ather Energy 450X. Ather erupted on the electric scooter scene with their cool marketing campaigns, limited-edition models and an almost Apple-like approach to product design and packaging. The 450X is its latest offering and Ather has improved its fit and finish ten-fold since the first prototypes of the 450. At ₹1.46 lakh, the 450X isn’t the most affordable scooter but it looks bang on the money. The exposed frame under the seat in a contrasting colour looks brilliant, the subtle branding looks great and it has a very clean, but purposeful design language. Sure, an almost completely silent matte-grey scooter doesn’t exactly make everyone turn their heads and take note. But those in the know, surely do.
Now that we know what we’re driving and riding, let’s get on with it and talk about the first bit — is India ready for EVs? To be honest, the world isn’t ready for everyone to make the jump to EVs. The first factor here is that there simply won’t be enough electricity being generated to juice up all our vehicles. While it is true that India is the world’s third-largest producer of electricity, it also takes the podium in electricity consumption and we’ll only move up that step with millions of EVs driving around. The second factor is infrastructure and to cut right to the chase, that isn’t fully ready yet. Yes, it has come a long way since a decade ago — you can actually find chargers in metros, but there are few properly fast chargers and none located on any major highways. And if everyone buys EVs, we will surely face CNG-like lines at EV-charging stations. This means that while EV technology has come a long way to provide usable driving or riding range, you still can’t use an EV for outstation trips in India. Just yet. But that’s not to say that you should avoid EVs entirely.
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