What’s common — but not obviously so — between Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and software engineer Maneet Seghal Dey?
Both own electric cars. So does Kapil Sibal, union human resource development minister. Keeping the three company are 20,000 other Delhiites who own either electric cars or scooters.
A silent — literally — and smokeless revolution is sweeping the Capital on the back of battery power.
“Today, Delhi is the fastest growing market for electric vehicles (EV) in the country, thanks to the huge subsidies the Delhi government provided last year. In the last few months we have grown at the rate of 30 per cent, the highest for electric vehicles in the country,” said Sohinder Gill, chief executive of Hero Electric and president, corporate affairs, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles.
Dey bought her Reva electric car six months ago. She’s happy with it. “It’s eco-friendly and highly economical.”
Others cite reasons like low running cost, easy-handling (electric vehicles are gearless) and ease of parking (thanks to compact dimensions) for adopting EVs. But the chief motivation is the desire to save the environment.
Corporate lawyer Srinivas Kotni drives only his red Reva as, “There is no reason for a person travelling alone to drive a big car in the city.”
Two wheelers that don’t go faster than 25 kph constitute almost 98 per cent of Delhi’s EV population. These don’t need to be registered and their riders don’t need a licence.
As a result, they are a hit with school-going students. And they come in bright colours with attractive graphics. Udbhav Gupta, 14, has been riding a Hero Maxi from his home in Rohini to his school in Ashok Vihar, a distance of 6km, for the last two years.
“At my age, I could not have got a licence for a motorbike. The slow speed of my bike is hardly a problem; it is still faster than a cycle.”