Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, under the leadership of Hon’ble Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari has been instrumental in issuing a landmark notification, IS 16833 (AIS 140) which will go a long way in safety of passengers in public transport vehicles in India. Under his leadership and vision, electric vehicles have received much needed support over the last 6 years and it reflects in the new expressways which will have dedicated lanes for electric vehicles and also suitable charging infrastructure. His push for ethanol/bio fuel will not only help save foreign exchange, but also enable the domestic agri sector. Mentioned below are some of the points on which Telematics Wire sought his views-
Making Indian Automotive Sector ATMANIRBHAR:
The automotive sector in India is considered as the backbone of the Indian manufacturing industry and also provides one of the highest employment opportunities. In this time of a global crisis, it is important that we adopt the strategy of being positive and for doing so, we have the vision statement as given by our Honourable Prime Minister of AATMA-NIRBHAR BHARAT.
We should see this problem as an opportunity that was never posed before us. This strategy calls for a mission to work towards developing technology at par with international standards and improve the work efficiency, and work-culture in our manufacturing industry. The key is to understand our strengths and leverage them in a manner that helps us tackle the constraints posed by the post-COVID world.
We’re presently the youngest country in the world with more than 65% of our population under the age group of 35 years. This means that we are at such an important place in history where we are blessed with the power and energy of the young minds. Our government has been investing its resources to boost R&D efforts in our premium institutes like IITs, IIMs, IIITs, AIMS, etc. The repository of knowledge generated from these institutes can be used to work on innovations and simultaneously provide employment opportunities to the trained youth.
Some people turn opportunities into problems and some turn problems into opportunities. Without negativity, it is the time for the Indian economy to dedicatedly work towards excellence and can rest assured of all the possible support from our Government.
Guidance for EVs in India
While we are working to improve the operating efficiencies of automobiles in India, it is important to give a concentrated effort towards alternative fuel technologies. Our mission and vision statement for alternative fuels is that we need import-substitute, cost-effective, indigenous, and pollution-free modes of transport. Alternative fuels will not only allow us to reduce our dependence on petroleum-based fuels but will play a crucial role in reducing transport-induced air pollution. We currently have an annual import burden of 7 lakh crores of petroleum and we aim to build a parallel economy of 2 lakh crores exclusively for the alternative fuels.
Our government has been leading multiple efforts for increased adoption of Electric Vehicles and we have got very positive results so far. We have observed that there is an increased awareness about EVs and willingness to go for such technologies. Electric mobility has enormous potential in India and we are currently working towards designing policies that will help us to shift buses to run on electric modes. We are giving equal emphasis on the cost and the financial viability of such technologies in case of mass-adoption.The Transport for London (TfL) model is a good example of revenue sharing bus systems between municipal authorities and the state governments.
For private vehicle usage, we are simultaneously working towards associated aspects such as increasing the number of charging stations and the availability of maintenance and repair units. This will help boost confidence in consumers and will have a positive impact on sales. The cost of EV is the major factor that determines consumer behaviour. I am of a strong belief that we do not require any artificial push for the adoption of EVs in India. The EV technology itself is so good that the market will self-regulate and bring down the costs of EVs, where the best quality will be available at the lowest price.
Future of Green fuels and alternative mobility in India
BioFuels has immense potential for mass adoption in India. Fuels like Bio-Ethanol, Bio-CNG / LNG, Bio-Diesel, etc. are some good examples where our Ministry is working in a dedicated manner. A fuel like Bio-Ethanol is a clean fuel and it can be produced from sugarcane, sugar, rice-grains, corn, etc. India is an excess producer of sugarcane, sugar and we also have excess food-grains like rice in our stock. We can utilise this for developing a full-fledged ethanol supply chain in India where states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu can play a vital role.
Simultaneously, we are working towards developing flex-engines that will provide an option to the consumer of running their vehicle on either 100% petrol or 100% bio-ethanol. This has the potential to bring a revolution in the Indian economy where we will shift to clean and green fuels while reducing our imports of oil. The best thing about this technology is that the increased revenue will directly go into the hands of our farmers and boost agricultural income.
Other fuels such as LNG and CNG are also vital for reducing air pollution, LNG particularly has higher efficiency than diesel and can be used in trucks and buses that travel for long distances. The cost of converting one diesel bus to LNG is nearly INR 10 to 12 lakhs but the consumers can recover this investment in a mere span of 2 years. We are working towards developing such financial models to boost conversions of existing diesel buses/trucks to LNG. While doing this we are giving equal emphasis on futuristic technologies such as Hydrogen Fuel Cells (HFC). We are supporting various R&D efforts on bringing down the cost of Hydrogen Fuel Cells and are in the process of developing a policy on this line.
Role of Information-Communication Technology (ICT) and AI in Road Transport and Highways sector
Using the Motor Vehicle Amendment 2019, we have given scope for various technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to be used in our road and transport sector. This will have a great impact on issues like passenger safety, monitoring and health of vehicles and various other aspects that will improve our operational efficiencies.
The use of e-tolls and FASTag alone has had a great impact on reducing waiting time on toll booths. This has a resultant in saving fuel, time, wear and tear of vehicles on national highways. Our existing VAHAN and PARIVAHAN portals have allowed us to integrate consumer and vehicle data onto a single platform. This has helped us in making well-informed decisions about the polices. We are also promoting the setting up of Multi-Modal Logistic Parks (MMLPs) that will help reduce the operational and logistics cost of businesses. Transport Sector is also the backbone of the logistics movement in India and the aim is to make this sector at par with international standards that will help ease of doing business in India while improving the quality of lives of people.
Published in Telematics Wire