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Motoring Trends July-August 21

August, 2021

A big announcement in July 2021 was the revealing of plans by Mercedes-Benz to go all-electric by 2030. It follows a regulatory push towards low emission technologies by the European Union. Back home in India, the forces that would be seem to work in the same direction. Post the central government’s announcement of the second phase of FAME II policy that would look upon two- and three-wheelers kindly, no less than four states – Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana – have announced their own EV policies. The proliferation of electric vehicles reflects a race to drastically reduce emissions and stop the climate change that is said to lead to raging bush fires in the North American continent, floods in Europe and landslides as well as floods in various parts of India.

The climate change, there is no doubt, is upon us, and this will affect not just the manufacturing sector but also other sectors like agriculture and health. As the world fights the Covid-19 pandemic, technologies seem to reach an inflection point where their costs versus benefits become more and more apparent. In view of the Pegasus spyware that is creating such a furore in many parts of the world, the time has come to carefully analyse the advantages and disadvantages of technological innovations on mankind and the environment. This would entail a travel beyond the excitement of developing a technology that would turn manufacturing smart or an automobile that could drive on its own. A thorough analysis of electric vehicle technology is necessary in view of its cost to the environment, its effectiveness in reducing emissions and its burden on the environment in terms of the use of metals and materials that can be recycled or disposed off safely.

As the geopolitical situation emerges with European companies looking to secure means to source raw materials required for electromobility, a look at electromobility versus other technologies is necessary. Markets like Russia are yet to find electromobility suitable. They have large reserves of gas that could help them address unique needs like cabin heating. To fuel electromobility, there is a need to scale up electricity production in many markets of the world. It is about finely balancing between addressing the industrial and household needs versus mobility needs. This would call for smart grids and ‘greener’ ways to produce electricity. AI and IoT could help in this, and also smart manufacturing.

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