Electric vehicles for a cleaner environment: How consumer choice can help reduce emissions

Electric vehicles for a cleaner environment: How consumer choice can help reduce emissions

By Nitin Kesar

Electric vehicles (EVs) fare better on several aspects such as better environment and clean air, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced dependence on imported fuel when compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

With 22 out 30 most polluted cities in India, the impact of air pollution on health and well-being is immense, especially when the average air pollution levels in the Indian cities is 8-11 times higher than the levels listed by WHO.

As a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, we are responsible for ~3 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2eq of GHGs. Of which, the contribution of the Indian road transport stands at more than 300 metric tonnes(MT) CO2 emissions which is slated to almost double by 2040 under the stated policies scenario (STEPS).

This underlying crisis has propelled the need for rapid decarbonization of the transport sector. Sundry initiatives have been taken by the Government of India (GOI) as the adoption of BS-VI norms (after BS-IV),  electrification of power train, emphasis on mass transit system, etc.

The success of these initiatives depends on the uptake on the demand side. As the demand for fuel-efficient and less polluting vehicle models become mainstream, the supply-side will follow resulting in a spate of low-carbon technologies in the market. However, to embolden this premise consumers must appreciate the external costs of owning an environment unfriendly vehicle.

How consumers can choose greener vehicles

For consumers to play their part in this green transition of the transport sector they need to become aware of the environmental costs associated with their vehicles. They need to understand what makes their vehicle a green vehicle. 

One of the most efficient ways to do this is by analysing Form 22 while purchasing a vehicle. Form 22 is a roadworthiness certificate of a vehicle issued by motor vehicle manufacturers for every vehicle model and shows the pollutant levels data. This form is a mandatory document that all vehicle dealers must provide to the customers, providing detailed declaration about the emission levels of any vehicle.

However, as simple it may seem, even after six and a half years of the amendment of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1989, which mandated the emission discloser through Form22, many people are not aware of this important document.

One of the reasons for the lack of transparency is the reluctance of the vehicle dealers to share this information prior to the customers during the decision-making phase. Adding to this is the convoluted nature of the information contained in the form that makes it difficult for consumers to incorporate in their purchase decision.

One possible way to address this gap is through a rating system that provides information about the environmental performance of the vehicles to inform consumers and enable them to understand the impact their purchase decisions have on the environment. There are several international precedents of environmental rating and consumer information programs for vehicles such as in the United States (ACEEE’s Green Score), Australia (Green Vehicle Guide), Belgium (Eco-Score), the United Kingdom (Green Car Rating), Eco Vehicles Rating (Mexico).

In India, a similar rating tool called Green Vehicle Rating allows users to calculate the real cost of owning a vehicle after considering the cost of ownership, and the damage to human health, and the environment (climate change, damage to crops, decline invisibility).  With this ubiquitous information at hand, consumers will be well informed about all the choices they have, before or at the Point of Contact (POC). 

(Nitin Kesar is the Manager – Marketing, Communications & PR at Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)

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