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The urgency of climate action, Auto News, ET Auto

<p>Governments worldwide are also enacting policies to phase out ICE vehicles and incentivize the transition to EVs</p>
Governments worldwide are also enacting policies to phase out ICE vehicles and incentivize the transition to EVs

The effects of climate change are evident through increased floods, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather events across the globe. Scientists warn that if immediate action is not taken, the damage caused may become irreversible by 2030.

One of the major contributors to global warming is greenhouse gas emissions from traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. However, there is still hope if we accelerate the adoption of zero-emission electric vehicles.

The Auto Industry’s Electric Shift
Understanding the gravity of the situation, almost every major automaker including GM, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Volvo have announced plans to go all-electric over the next decade or so. This shift is driven by environmental concerns and the reality that oil reserves are finite, expected to be depleted within this century. EVs, powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, offer a sustainable alternative.

Governments worldwide are also enacting policies to phase out ICE vehicles and incentivize the transition to EVs through rebates, tax credits, preferential parking, etc. For instance, California plans to allow only zero-emission car sales by 2035. The stage is clearly set for electric vehicles to take over and dominate this decade.

Benefits of Driving Electric
Electric cars produce no tailpipe emissions, and their widespread adoption by 2030 could help limit global warming to under 1.5°C, a target of the Paris Agreement. Additionally, EVs can significantly reduce urban air pollution, which is currently exacerbated by particulate matter and nitrogen oxides from ICE vehicles.

While most existing EVs run on lithium-ion batteries, hydrogen fuel cell EVs are emerging as an exciting zero-emission option. These vehicles use compressed hydrogen to produce electricity onboard, offering benefits like faster refueling and greater range compared to battery EVs.

Overcoming Adoption Challenges
Despite the benefits, EV adoption has faced challenges like range anxiety and inadequate charging infrastructure. While costs have declined dramatically over the past decade, EV batteries remain expensive. As a result, most affordable EVs today have a maximum range of 250-400 km on a single charge. Many consumers worry about running out of charge mid-journey.

The industry is addressing these issues with innovative solutions such as portable chargers and swappable batteries. Charging infrastructure is also getting a boost with newer faster chargers and more charging stations being installed globally. Energy providers are collaborating with automakers to install chargers across gas stations, restaurants, and other public places.

Increasing Raw Material Constraints

The surge in EV production has led to supply chain issues for essential metals like lithium, cobalt and nickel which are crucial for lithium-ion batteries. Experts warn that demand for these metals may outstrip supply availability by 2030. However, alternative solutions are emerging. For instance, sodium-ion batteries made from widely available materials like manganese are gaining traction as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to lithium-ion.

China’s GAC recently unveiled a concept EV claiming a record 1000 km range, powered by a new aluminum-air battery. As aluminum is the most abundant metal on Earth, this battery chemistry can ensure adequate availability of raw materials for eco-friendly EVs of the future.

The Road Ahead
In India, falling battery costs, government subsidies, and new model launches have spurred EV adoption. However, most car sales in India remain ICE vehicles. Statistics indicate that electric car penetration is negligible beyond Tier 1 metro cities. To accelerate the transition, efforts are needed to raise EV awareness in smaller towns and to deploy chargers across highways and rural regions. Collaboration between industry players and oil marketing companies can leverage the latter’s vast network for setting up charging stations at fuel pumps.

With increasing support from policymakers and most automakers now committed to electrifying their lineups, electric vehicles are poised to take centerstage this decade. However, sustained efforts are essential from both public and private players across the ecosystem to address infrastructural gaps and raw material constraints. Success on these fronts can enable EVs to drive us swiftly towards the destination of a greener and sustainable future.

The author is Senior Director Engineering at eInfochips (An Arrow Company).

  • Published On Jun 22, 2024 at 03:19 PM IST

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