Tuesday , 10 December 2019

Future Mobility in India Connected, Intelligent, Safe…

SecondlyMobility is a key driver of the economy. Better mobility reduces the burden of travel & transportation and can boost economic growth. With car sharing, high capacity public transit, high speed rails, electric vehicles etc the mobility landscape could look very different in the coming years says Preeti Swaminathan.

 A number of emerging future mobility concepts have the potential to make our transport system more efficient and reduce congestion by making shared mobility modes more attractive and easier to use

The future of mobility is going to be integrated and multimodal. India will witness see multiple mobility models like car sharing, ride-hailing, demand responsive transport (DRT), and mobility as a service (MaaS). Globally, this is a trillion dollar plus market, while in India it is expected to be around USD 80 to 90 billion by 2030.

Sarwant Singh, Manging Partner, Frost & Sullivan says, “India is already a leader in ride-hailing services with Ola and Uber fleets expected to expand in the short-term. There is tremendous potential for DRT in India, where the concept will be based not so much on ‘one person one car’ as on the aggregation of demand from four or five people travelling from place A to B.”

From the automobile industry’s perspective, Frost & Sullivan envisage an electric vehicle (EV) revolution in India. However, the lack of long range EVs and high acquisition costs have been major restraints to EV uptake in India. The government needs to encourage EV imports, either with tax benefits or through the aggressive acceleration of ‘Make in India’ schemes.

According to Singh, “Many corporates can, and should encourage their staff to adopt sharing models, which will help decongest city roads. However, the question is how can corporates aggregate demand for office goers so that their staff can share a ten to twelve-seater and reach the same place? I see several things that need to happen in parallel in India. Now, the situation is unsustainable. If we only look at connectivity in cars, we need to break it down into multiple areas. So, connectivity is about traffic management, infotainment & entertainment, and about other features like health, wellness & wellbeing.”

Future mobility is a broad term which can be applied to all sorts of transportation.

According to Ravin Mirchandani, Chairman, Ador Group, “Future Mobility is basically about safety. “Today, road fatalities contribute to over 150,000+ lost lives which is a big toll on our economy. Ador is working on a suite of products to address road safety, including speed enforcement and speed calming devices that are uniquely made for India and made in India,” he adds.

However, while choosing future mobility there is a lot of confusion in the EV industry especially on battery swapping systems instead of battery charging. Mirchandani adds, “We see this as perhaps a solution for rickshaw and E-Auto fleets, and in some instances for two wheeler fleets. Swapping is not viable beyond that as in order to swap batteries from a system or brand agnostic perspective it would require all engine architectures to be the same or similar. Conversely, if this is not the case, it requires a company to make significant investments in a closed loop swapping system, which in a country the size of India will never pass muster on a profitability test.”

India should prioritise the vehicle segments that should electrify in a phased manner over a realistic period, using the change in platforms as an avenue to generate entrepreneurial employment for the large amount of people seeking jobs. Imagine charge stations replacing the part of our lives that public call offices (PCOs) used to play. This will help ensure a ubiquitous availability of charging infrastructure whilst generating significant personal employment in the country.

“We need to promote investment in giga factories to ensure availability of energy storage mediums for electrification. Further, and most importantly, our policies need to be reasonable and realistic in terms of timelines without imposing technologies on industry (eg insisting on battery swapping instead of charging). Let market forces prevail and the best outcomes always eventuate if no one company or one technology obtains special consideration”.

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