Does Electric Car have Future in India?

Nov 19, 2010

Indians are well aware of their traffic issues. In excruciating detail, in fact. The conceptually improbable assortment of vehicles which infests India’s roads is enough to produce a national wince while even considering it. The distinction between car insurance and life insurance sometimes needs to be checked. The good news (for once) for India’s eyesore-averse public is that electric cars, and an all-Indian car concept, are a perfect match. 

Those who’ve been following the career of the Tata Nano, which in 2008 received international attention as the world’s cheapest new car, will know the business angles. The Tata Nano and related designs could also be India’s ticket to both a national problem solver and a pricelessly valuable export as electric cars.

The Tata Nano class of car has one huge advantage as a potential electric car: its frame. It’s a lightweight design. Electric cars perform much better without having to lug around massive frames. For manufacturers, the Tata also has another big advantage as an electric car - much cheaper production costs. If a diesel powered Tata Nano cost $2500 to buy in 2008, an electric version would come in well under that figure to produce.  

India’s ability to produce cheap, efficient space missions is well-known. This is the automotive version of that scenario. A quick glance at the costing of foreign electric cars is a rather graphic reminder that India does do some things far more cost effectively than other countries, and the Tata was already a glaring example of far better cost efficiency to start with.

It would take one of India’s several million qualified CAD designers about half an hour to produce the specifications for a category-killing export car. The employment a product like this and its related assemblies could produce for the domestic market alone would be valuable to India’s economy. The exports would be worth billions.

The Tata Nano class doesn’t even really require retooling to become an electric car, just a slightly different assembly process. If one also considers the possibilities of adding Indian- made extras like local GPS, electronics, etc, the car becomes a sort of Indian Expo of potential products.

The Japanese car industry was the forerunner of the Japanese economic boom. With Japan’s cars came Japanese technology. Chinese outsourcing introduced Chinese technology around the world. America itself developed based on the marketing of its lifestyle and related technology around the world.

There’s no reason why India, with an already existing production capability and reliable design concept, couldn’t do exactly the same thing, and on a huge scale. The skills and production capacity are ready to go and can easily be expanded to meet demand. The products can even be promoted globally in the world’s biggest movie market, Mumbai. A Bollywood star in an Indian car could be as big as Audrey Hepburn promoting scooters, (which didn’t even really exist as commercial products until that 1950s promotion) and with a global reach starting with a billion or so people, could make quite an impact.

Perhaps most importantly, Indians will be able to buy their own cars and get their car insurance quotes and drive on their own roads without wincing. 

By Sachin
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Comment on this article

  • John D'Souza, Belman/Bejai

    Tue, Nov 23 2010

    Can we think differrently and look at alternative options to have fuel efficient, environment friendly and cheaper vehicles? Kindly go through my 2 comments below. Thanks

  • Avinash, Karkala/DXB

    Tue, Nov 23 2010


    I have been working with an electric car company in Blore for a year and so. The challenges it has got is plenty. Even though there are ve researches happening the cost factor will be high. Atleast till the company achieves BREAK EVEN the product will be expensive, in todays market a basic model of EV in Blore will cosr INR 4lac with lot of problems like intra city car, less seating capacity, less speed, no charging points, replacement cost of battery, no garages for repair in break down to name a few. More over customer education and orientation towards the product is less. Hydrogen Fuel cell cars may be the future with duel mode option, till it materializes within buying capacity of common man in India discussions will be on and on and on and on....

  • Abu-Affan/Adnan, Dammam

    Sun, Nov 21 2010

    Already electricity is too costly,in future this types of car will remains parking only.

  • John D'Souza, Belman/Bejai

    Sat, Nov 20 2010

    While looking at the alternate energy, why can’t we think of free and natural power of gravity? It is available for 24 hours and everywhere. Therefore, why can’t we make 80% weight of passengers and carriage to push/generate energy instead of carrying them throughout the journey like kids and by spending so costly fuel? With a new concept, we can use 50% capacity of: a two wheeler to carry about eight (8) people, an auto rickshaw to carry about 15 people and jeep to carry about 40 additional people or weight of 2-3 tons of weight. This is a possibility by using only 20% of fuel energy and 80% by the natural and free energy. The satisfactory and comfortable tests can be done within 15 days by using the existing vehicles.

    Overall benefits are: more than 75% reduction in fuel consumption due to less force to push/pull, more than 70% in air pollution level with low fuel consumption and light engines, more than 80% sound pollution reduction due to low capacity engines and lighter vehicles, engine capacity lowered by 80% as low power is needed to pull. Only adequate brakes and speed control is needed. Body strength of vehicles reduce by 50% with the lighter engines and accordingly the production, maintenance and running costs will reduce, considerable reduction in production, running and maintenance costs. Hence cheaper transport facilities, saved funds can be used for satisfying the basic needs and betterment of life style of people.

  • W D'Souza, Mangalore/US

    Sat, Nov 20 2010

    This is a good article. The car companies can do much better. Lets see we have wind, solar, electric and other technologies which most of us are not aware of. Would'nt it be nice to have a solar panel on the roof of your car and small turbines in the front of the car that could generate energy enough to keep the battries recharged. Also electric energy is not convenient in large cities were folks do not have garages as most people live in appartments. There will be need to redesign parking garages and infrastructure to truly have an electric car. So it will be great for short distances. However if one had a solar panel then parking outdoors for 8 plus hours the car is most likely to get almost a full charge. I hopeful that we will have a bright future

  • salman, Mangalore/Dubai

    Sat, Nov 20 2010

    This is good for metro cities like Mumbai Bangalore where there is lot of pollution and heavy traffic and good for city limits. Not good for long journeys. I guess this should have a good future in India if the price is affordable

  • John D'Souza, Belman/Bejai

    Sat, Nov 20 2010

    Hi Sachin, it is encouraging that efforts are on to use alternate fuel and eco-friendly vehicles. The world has seen the ages of evolution in the land transport sector and revolution recently in the telecommunication sector. I have a simple idea to make a revolutionary change in the land transport sector. It is a huge project with wonderful potential and amazing benefits. It is a rare opportunity and unique idea, to generate/save energy (instead of merely spending on costly fuel), to reduce sound pollution and air pollution drastically (instead of causing the environmental disaster), to create huge fund for numerous welfare activities (instead of wasteful consumption). Initially, I am trying to form a strong team of 3-4 people and if anybody is interested, curious, serious and aggressive in Mangalore/Udupi area to join the team, please contact me now at

  • Ashwin, Bejai/Mangalore

    Sat, Nov 20 2010

    Hello Sachin, and Hello to All Daiji readers,
    liked your post , i had read this blog a couple of years back check it out:
    Presently, more than 5000 vehicles are running across US that use electricity as fuel, with the maximum number being in California. In the present days when the oil prices are soaring, the demand for electricity as the alternate fuel for vehicles is bound to increase. Vehicles using electricity as fuel are called Electric Vehicles (EVs) or electric cars. In electric vehicles usually the battery is fitted that stores the electricity and runs the motor, which in turn rotates the wheels of the vehicle.

    Here are some advantages of EVs using electricity as the alternate fuel:

    1) Electricity is readily available.

    2) Since there is no IC engine, the vehicle runs noiselessly, in fact many times you won’t even know that some vehicle has just passed beside you.

    3) There are no emissions from EVs, hence they are environmental friendly.

    4) Manufacturing the EV is very easy you have to merely assemble various components of the vehicle. This is especially true for small motorcycles or mopeds.

    5) EVs require less maintenance.

    Disadvantages of EVs:

    1) The major disadvantage of EVs is that the battery has to be charged regularly. The normal working range of battery is about 50-130 miles and it takes about 6-8 hours to recharge completely.

    2) If you are traveling a long distance, you may be at the risk of the battery getting discharged.

  • Donnie, Mangalore

    Fri, Nov 19 2010

    sachin,.. making a electric is not as easy as you make it seem. i`ll explain -

    1. weight of nano is not much but, when you fit an electric engine... you need to install batteries. and this is where we have biggest problem. because when you have an electric car you need more range.. to get more range you need more battery, and more battery means more weight. when more weight is added, a new suspension needs to be designed to support the weight of the battries.

    2. modern battery technology is not good enough to be used practically in a car.

    3. There is also safety issue to be looked at. you dont want to die of acid burns. do you?

    4. most of technology what is used be indian car makers is joke. you can never compare the effort some manufacturers put in R&D to what we make in india.

    5. Do you know why nano is so cheap??? because in india we dont have safety regulations. if tata would sell the car in europe they would have to meet safety regulations. and thats when the prices increase. tata did make a car really cheaper but where does it stand safety wise.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Fri, Nov 19 2010

    Very much so. This is the only thing will save India and the world from accute pollution coming out out of gasolene/diesel fuelled vehicles. I think its time to build the infrastrucutre to service the electric vehicle in India. Tata must take the lead in openning electric car service stations now.

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Fri, Nov 19 2010

    Tata Nano is little too small as a regular car. It will serve good as an Electric car.

  • Edward, India

    Fri, Nov 19 2010

    The Government has to take the lead in using and providing facilities for electric and other non-polluting means of transportation.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Thu, Nov 18 2010

    The real competition is in between
    the hybrid and diesel cars, but
    finally the electric cars will be
    the winners for the highly density
    cities of the world.

    It creates zero pollution, noice,
    and the cheapest way to operate.

    Nissan has introduced an hundred
    mile range 100% electric car "Leaf", and they are working on
    extending the range to 300 miles.
    Also General Motors is going to
    market "Volt" with a long range of
    300 miles, with the initial use of
    40 miles worth of petroleum.

    Necessity is the mother of invention. From the 1974 oil
    embargo of the oil producing nations, the western countries
    did't learn the lessons of depending on other countries for
    their energy supply, but now the
    world has learnt the hard lessons
    of blind trust.

    Within 10 years, the number of
    electric cars with long range will
    be rapidly increasing all across
    the world.

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