Are technological advancements accelerating electric mobility in India? - Hindustan Times

Are technological advancements accelerating electric mobility in India?

May 02, 2024 05:39 PM IST

This article is authored by Ashok Vashist, founder and CEO, WTiCabs.

Right from the time we wake up to alarm notifications and track our daily number of steps through smartwatches to mapping traffic and making online purchases, technology has significantly impacted our lives. In fact, digitisation has revolutionised the way we travel, enabling us to map traffic and avoid congestion, book a cab or auto ride seamlessly, and even have the expected estimated time of arrival (ETA) of the driver. With the sustainability trend gaining prominence, technological advancements are making significant strides in accelerating electric mobility in India.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) (Pic for representation) PREMIUM
Electric Vehicles (EVs) (Pic for representation)

If we consider the cost-wise analysis, technology accounts for only 2% of the overall mobility cost. However, it delivers 98% outcome, signalling the vital role of technology in overall service delivery. Efficient operations in the mobility sector are defined by maximised utilisation, minimised cost, and ensuring excellent user service experiences. And to achieve smarter mobility, we will have to achieve these objectives which can be done by leveraging technology.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the tech tools used widely today and several futuristic tech trends that will transform the mobility industry:

The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) from their ICE counterparts marks an evolutionary milestone in the Indian automotive industry. The accelerating adoption of EVs, along with the development of the charging infrastructure, is paving the way for a cleaner and more sustainable mobility landscape. Tech developments in the sector are resulting in the introduction of high-end, tech-driven charging solutions, such as fast chargers and wireless charging, eliminating the need for wired charging solutions. Advancements like these will help deal with barriers like range anxiety and bring us closer to our electric mobility vision. China and South Korea have started adopting this trend and other countries will soon follow suit. Back home, government initiatives such as the FAME scheme are leading to a spike in domestic manufacturing and increased availability of charging infrastructure. Additionally, battery tech improvements and renewable energy integration will contribute to sustainable mobility solutions in the future.

We also expect to see a burgeoning demand for electric autonomous vehicles (AV-Es) in the times to come. With the trend gaining popularity, we believe that the future landscape of the mobility sector seems sustainable and booming. Enabled by technology, these vehicles offer the benefits of both EVs and autonomous technology and will emerge as a more efficient and eco-friendly choice over ICE vehicles. AV-Es will also be vital in increasing on-road safety and lessening traffic congestion by reducing human error, which is the primary reason for 94% of collisions and will lead to a faster commute.

Today, people often struggle with parking their vehicles and this issue is more pronounced in urban areas. The search for parking spots is an arduous and time-consuming task, contributing to emissions and traffic congestion because of the high amount of fuel spent and negatively impacting the drivers’ well-being. Smart parking systems are reshaping the urban mobility landscape. How? By integrating smart parking data with transportation systems to deliver real-time traffic updates and optimise travel routes. They are advanced solutions leveraging new-age technologies like sensors, data analytics, and real-time data and providing real-time information about available parking spaces. This helps drivers optimally utilise parking spaces and management, park efficiently, and even alleviate traffic congestion while reducing time and fuel spent in the search for parking spaces.

The global smart parking systems market is expected to be valued at $8.68 billion by the end of this year. The APAC region, especially India, is one of the fastest-growing regions. Several factors, including traffic congestion, a surge in automobile ownership, limited parking spaces, and growing environmental concerns, will lead to the market’s growth. We foresee tech trends like the emergence of contactless parking systems, cloud-based parking management systems, AI-driven predictive parking solutions, and harnessing the power of blockchain technology for secure transactions to dominate the mobility market in the future.

Smart parking is anticipated to be an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle of sustainable mobility. The smart city initiatives based on the core foundation of tech-driven strategies complement the increasing demand for urban mobility and will collectively fuel the market’s growth, driving innovation and development. It is expected that such advanced systems will propel the growing popularity of alternative transportation options like cycling and carpooling. In fact, smart parking systems’ integration with EV charging infrastructure will further accelerate the sector’s progress.

In India, public transport is essential for mobility and livelihood for the population, especially in urban areas that are congested and polluted. While state governments have established a strong network of bus services, their operation and accessibility versus the growing population haven’t matched the pace, leading to an increasing reliance on private vehicles. State transport undertakings face challenges of rising fuel costs and ageing fleets, and to deal with these issues, they are exploring new strategies like fostering innovation and facilitating technological advancements to enhance public transportation accessibility. This move is vital to improving service reliability, upscaling passenger experiences, and boosting ridership. It is expected that features like real-time arrival information, contactless fare payments, and mobile ticketing will make public transit more convenient and accessible. To understand the impact, let’s look at how we travel in the metro nowadays. When the metro was launched in the Capital in 2002, we had to purchase tokens to commute. In 2012, cards were introduced that ensured seamless travel by helping passengers skip long queues to purchase tokens or tickets. Cut to 2024, we now have the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), which is streamlining public transportation systems from metro rails and buses to trains and payment processes. This is a revolutionary step in digitising India’s public transport system in the true sense.

With the surge in digitisation, there is a pressing need to analyse large amounts of data and utilise it for various purposes. In the transportation sector, big data is integral to route planning, traffic control, and congestion management. Analysing transportation data collected from various sources enables transportation agencies to identify traffic patterns, anticipate demand, and optimise infrastructure investments. Predictive modelling thus helps forecast future transportation needs and plan accordingly.

Tech innovations, from EVs to smart parking systems are revolutionising the way we travel. It is expected that the future of the Indian mobility industry will be progressive and all the more sustainable, driven by technological advancements and innovative strategies. The increased adoption of electric autonomous vehicles, the expansion of EV charging infrastructure, and the emergence of cloud-based and contactless parking solutions will further accelerate electric mobility.

The Government of India is supporting the EV transition to achieve the country’s net-zero target by 2070 and has set an ambitious target of 30% electrification of vehicles by 2030. Creating a smarter, greener, and more connected and intelligent future of mobility will require a collaborative effort from the government, private sector, transportation agencies, mobility solution providers, and startups.

This article is authored by Ashok Vashist, founder and CEO, WTiCabs.

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