Electric vehicles are now a common sight on Indian roads. In most metro cities, people have started opting for electric cars more frequently as they find them easier to maintain and appreciate their low running costs. While many discuss the environmental friendliness of electric cars and consider them the future of mobility, we still lack comprehensive knowledge about this technology and its potential environmental impact in the future. A research study conducted by IIT Kanpur has suggested that if you seek a sustainable solution, then hybrid vehicles might be better than EVs and internal combustion engine cars.
The study from IIT Kanpur suggests that the eco-friendly image associated with electric vehicles in marketing isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, EVs might actually have a more detrimental impact on the environment compared to traditional ICE or hybrid vehicles. The research team examined various factors related to manufacturing, ownership, and usage of ICE, hybrid, and electric vehicles.
The results indicated that manufacturing, using, and scrapping an electric vehicle can release 15-50 percent more greenhouse gases than a hybrid vehicle. This is primarily because many so-called eco-friendly electric vehicles rely on electricity produced by coal-powered plants in India (around 75 percent). This process of generating electricity from coal emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Despite their appearance as eco-friendly options, electric vehicles might not be as environmentally friendly as believed. Additionally, the batteries used in electric cars could pose a serious environmental hazard if not disposed of properly. If mishandled, electric cars and two-wheelers might turn from today’s solution into tomorrow’s problem.
The study suggests that the hybrid vehicles currently available emit the least amount of greenhouse gases. However, these vehicles have not been offered substantial concessions or incentives by authorities, making them too expensive for the common man. The research also addresses electric cars, noting that although they are more expensive compared to hybrid and conventional cars, many people are purchasing them due to promises of not needing to buy increasingly costly petrol or fuel.
Another issue with EVs is their limited range. Most entry-level electric cars are unsuitable for long drives and are primarily designed for city use. Even for those who have used EVs for road trips, issues related to charging have been commonly reported. Hybrid vehicles address these issues by having an engine that functions in case the battery completely runs out of charge. They eliminate the need for manually plugging in and charging batteries as they charge while the car is in motion.
Researchers discovered that EVs actually cost 15-60% more per kilometer compared to HEVs and conventional vehicles. The study encourages customers to consider hybrid vehicles as more suitable for India. It also suggests that hybrid vehicles should receive similar low-tax treatment as EVs to boost their popularity. Currently we have cars like Maruti Invicto, Grand Vitara, Toyota Hyryder, Toyota Hycross, Honda City in the market that are offered with strong hybrid technology. Toyota also had other models like Camry and even Honda offered their Accord sedan with hybrid tech for a short period time in India.