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Old 26th August 2016, 16:27   #1
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Default So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Ever since Tesla came up, Electric Vehicles have become a rage. Tesla wasn't the first company to offer EVs; they've been around for quite a while.

The Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are two of the initial commercial EVs introduced in the US. Back then, the technology being very nascent, these cars had a range of about 60-80 kms, weren't what you called fancy, suffered awful resale and also had issues surround the battery packs themselves.

So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?-2011_nissan_leaf_sl__10282011.jpg
So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?-dca_06_2012_chevy_volt_4035.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Leaf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt

Global warming sets the stage for EVs

Global warming, climate change were already buzz words and there was a lot of discussion on how our climate was being affected by emissions arising of burning fossil fuels. The common man was the culprit, given our generous use of petroleum in our cars.

Of course, people wanted to do something about it. Initiatives such as airlines displaying the CO2 emissions during your flight, Earth Hour, use of public transport and so on, sprung up to make one aware of their carbon footprint.

Electric Vehicles were of course the "best" way to counter the argument of rising emissions - cut them completely!

In the last five years or so, the popularity of EVs has risen significantly. Nearly every manufacturer: Ford with the Fusion, Honda with the Accord, Toyota with the Prius, started getting on the EV bandwagon.

For a long time, EVs had enough handicaps for the average buyer to not consider them: the range was barely enough for a day or two and the cars were generally compact.

Tesla

And then came Tesla. It completely changed the face of what an EV is. The cars are built beautifully, have a very realistic range on a single charge, they have all the creature comforts you'd want, and good lord! are they powerful or what!

To forever change things, Musk opened up Tesla's patents for the world to use. For free!

https://www.tesla.com/blog/all-our-p...are-belong-you

To take things forward, Tesla is doing its bit to offer charging stations across cities and even highways in the US.

Now let's get back to the fundamental reason why EVs came up: to allow the common man to do their bit in protecting the environment by going "green". Reducing harmful emissions that our gasoline-powered are rather generous about.

But.

But, how "green" are these EVs, really?

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Old 26th August 2016, 16:32   #2
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Default re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

I've always had this question considering the basic fact that one of the most significant source of electricity, the same that is used to charge these EVs, is coal. And the emissions from burning coal can embarrass even a contingent of cars!

So, let's get into it.

To be fair, when we talk about emissions by a particular vehicle, we should account for both: the emissions during the production of that vehicle, and those when the vehicle is in use.

This is a crucial

Most of the data is available for the US but I also wanted to know the facts for India so I'll try to use information in a way that it applies to India as well.

This following article claims that EVs in the US most definitely have lesser emissions that the gasoline counterparts.

So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?-emissions-source.jpg

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/...hout-tailpipes

But there's also a caveat: the emissions calculated per car depend on the source of electricity in that particular area!

So,

Quote:
The map makes it very clear that electric vehicles emit significantly less CO2 than gasoline-powered vehicles.

The one exception comes when the electric car is charged on a grid with a heavy mix of coal—an increasingly rare circumstance, as coal plants are retired or retrofitted for natural gas—and is compared to the most fuel-efficient cars sold today, like a 52-mpg Toyota Prius.
Here's some information of just how terrible coal power plants are:

http://www.brighthubengineering.com/...d-power-plant/

There's a steady mix of CO2, Particulate Matter (PM), Nitrogen Oxides (NOX), Ash, Sulphur Dioxide (SO2).

Let's get down to the emissions of hydroelectric vs coal-powered power plants.

Pounds of CO2 emitted per million British thermal units (Btu) of energy for various fuels:

Name:  emissions.jpg
Views: 6957
Size:  25.9 KB

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=73&t=11

Now here comes the fun part. Want to guess how electricity is produced in India?

A whopping 73% of electricity generation in India happens via coal power plants.

In contrast, that figure is at 40% in the US; natural gas being the other prominent source.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ity_production

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/...ame_desc=false

Last edited by libranof1987 : 26th August 2016 at 17:06.
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Old 26th August 2016, 16:36   #3
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Default re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

The following show just how complicated the argument is, for the amount of emissions between gasoline and EVs:

So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?-summary.jpg

http://insideevs.com/infographic-ele...-really-green/

Essentially,

Quote:
So the amazing hat trick that Elon Musk and others have done with the EV batteries is that they have traded carbon emissions you see for carbon emissions you don’t see. It’s like a little kid hiding their eyes to not be able to see something that scares them.

If the electric vehicle you drive is charged from an coal-powered electricity plant, it’s estimated to emit 15 ounces of carbon per mile which is 3 ounces more per mile than a gasoline powered vehicle. And the EPA says that the lithium batteries in the Tesla have high potential for environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution and human health impacts.

So, if you’re EV battery electricity is powered by coal, the environmental impacts of it are 17-27 percent higher than compared to a conventional car.
http://mynorthwest.com/364483/not-he...-electric-car/

Another article on how the Singapore Govt. reacted when someone imported a Tesla: they didn't give him a rebate, they fined him!

http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160...les-green-cred

Quote:
The Singapore authorities calculated the ‘carbon cost’ of generating the electricity that will be used to charge the car. This is the elephant in the trunk of electric vehicles. Where and how the power is produced is not often considered, but perhaps it should be.
Tesla is "working" with the Singapore Govt. on arriving at the right method of calculating this!

Beyond Emissions

To take the argument further, it is not just the emissions during the charging of the EVs, but also the environmental harm that goes into their manufacturing that should be considered:

Coming to the Lithium Ion batteries that power the EVs (and batteries in our other household appliances)

Quote:
Rare metals only exist in tiny quantities and inconvenient places—so you have to move a lot of earth to get just a little bit. In the Jiangxi rare earth mine in China, Abraham writes, workers dig eight-foot holes and pour ammonium sulfate into them to dissolve the sandy clay. Then they haul out bags of muck and pass it through several acid baths; what’s left is baked in a kiln, leaving behind the rare earths required by everything from our phones to our Teslas.

At this mine, those rare earths amounted to 0.2 percent of what gets pulled out of the ground. The other 99.8 percent—now contaminated with toxic chemicals—is dumped back into the environment. That damage is difficult to quantify, just like the impact of oil drilling.
And the silver lining?

Quote:
Now let’s fast-forward 15 years, to when your Tesla Model 3 is on its last legs. Where is the battery going to go? The good news is: not to a landfill. “It has not been accepted for a battery that comes out of a car to go to a landfill for decades,” says electric car advocate Chelsea Sexton. Instead, “battery recyclers are piloting technologies to recover a lot of materials from those batteries,”
http://www.wired.com/2016/03/teslas-...t-green-think/

http://www.americanthinker.com/artic...vironment.html

Last edited by libranof1987 : 26th August 2016 at 17:14.
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Old 26th August 2016, 17:10   #4
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Default re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

In summary, what is then, the answer to the question: whether Electric Vehicles are "greener" than their gasoline counterparts?

Electric Vehicles are only as green as the electricity that goes into charging them!

Quote:
the U.S. is making a tectonic shift from burning coal to produce the majority of its electricity to using cleaner natural gas. The changeover produces less CO2, making electric cars cleaner across the country, roughly equivalent to a hybrid.
Quote:
Driving an electric car in China, where coal is by far the largest power plant fuel, is a catastrophe for climate change. And if the coal plant lacks pollution controls—or fails to turn them on—it can amplify the extent of smog, acid rain, lung-damaging microscopic soot and other ills that arise from burning fossil fuels. The same is true in other major coal-burning countries, such as Australia, India and South Africa.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...ssarily-clean/

Should we then go buy EVs to do our bit for planet Earth?

Being in India, given our source of electricity, we'll probably end up doing more harm than good in promoting EVs. A lot of infrastructure needs to change for EVs to truly start making a positive impact.

This doesn't mean, EVs have no purpose in our country. It implies that their time is yet to come!

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Old 27th August 2016, 10:10   #5
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th August 2016, 10:51   #6
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Amazing thread and thanks for compiling that information. I read a few articles on this too during the recent media hoopla that was made around the launch of Tesla in India. But the fact remains:

1. Producing that electricity is more harmful for the environment, albeit its hurting someone else in a remote place and not the person driving the Tesla, at least not immediately.

2. The batteries themselves are a serious source of pollution and there is no concrete disposal mechanism in place either to safely discard them.

Extending this logic further to our country and specially in context with the recent odd even rule and banning private cars ( which are more likely better maintained than a similar or even much younger commercial cab) will give us the same results possibly. There was also some debate regarding the carbon footprint of constructing a new car vs allowing a user to continue to drive their old car.
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Old 27th August 2016, 11:27   #7
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Great thread.
A few comments.
Obviously, true that going for electrical cas, means swapping car emissions for power plant emission. Especially if the majority of those run on coal. But even then there are at least two very beneficial effects.

Power plants generate energy in a very efficient way. Even taken into account the losses of the transport of electricity typically it appears to be more efficient then your powering your car with its own engine. Although, you can find studies on the net that suggest otherwise.

Secondly, it does reduce emissions in town. You could argue it just dumps it somewhere else, but to my earlier point, overall it probably dumps less and it can have a significant positive effect on places with a high concentration of cars, e.g. towns.

Here a few interesting data points on the wind energy in Europe:

Here a few interesting data points on the wind energy in Europe:

Quote:
The total installed wind power capacity in Europe at the end of 2012 covers 7% of the EU-27’s electricity demand.
By 2020, EWEA estimates that 230 GW (including 40 GW offshore) of wind power capacity will be installed in the EU, meeting 15-17% of the EU’s electricity demand (4.2% from offshore). By 2050, EWEA estimates that wind power will meet 50% of the EU’s electricity demand.
Wind provides 26% of electricity in Denmark, while Portugal and Spain get around16% of electricity from wind power respectively, followed by Ireland (12%) and Germany (11%).
Another interesting fact is that in Europe wind energy is subsidised. Depending on who’s report you tend to believe about 20-25% is paid for by the EU taxpayer. Traditional power generation (coal, oil, gas, nuclear) is not subsidised at all.

So that is in a period of just a decade a very significant shift in completely emission free power generation! So electrical cars make a lot of sense in those countries.



In countries such as the Netherlands lots of household these days have solar panels installed as well. Here in the area where I live I’d say about 40% of the houses have solar panels. That was 0% a decade ago.

My wife and me are looking at building a new house and I’ve just found out that I can equip the house with roof tiles with solar panels built in. So it hardly shows. Domestic solar panels will either generate electricity or heat you boiler.

It’s all very debatable how much each solution contributes to fewer emissions. However, there is one thing which is very concrete and measurable: All these various measures have brought emissions down significantly during the last two decades. You could argue about how much exactly and whether it should be more.

The other very controversial thing which, I think is under estimate,d is the environmental impact of producing and scrapping electrical cars. Not the cars itself but the batteries. It’s definitely going to be a problem and remarkably the green lobby hasn’t picked up on this at all.

It’s more an agenda of the anti-electrical car brigade then the green brigade.

http://www.unep.or.jp/ietc/Publicati...T/Annex2_3.asp

Jeroen

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Old 27th August 2016, 12:22   #8
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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
In summary, what is then, the answer to the question: whether Electric Vehicles are "greener" than their gasoline counterparts?

Electric Vehicles are only as green as the electricity that goes into charging them!

Unfortunately most of the articles quoted are skewed to show that EV are more polluting by calculating pollution at the energy source and comparing that to the emission of a gasoline vehicle.

Why are they not considering the pollution caused by the drilling and pumping of crude oils? The power requirements of an oil refinery and the associated pollution? The fuel consumed and the pollution caused by the transportation of these fuel?

Next comes the question of recycling. Have we considered the recycling costs of the various fluids that go into an IC engine vehicle over its life time? The engine oils, the transmission oils, Coolants etc? Are we considering the recycling costs of the no of parts that needs to be replaced in an IC engine over its lifetime? The fuel/oil itself is a rare mineral but the articles make a fuss about the rare minerals that go into a battery and motors of EV.

The battery technology is progressing in the right direction with reducing usage of Lithium and more research is going into this field.

No one could say that EV is the best or it is the future. But, at this given point, it is the only right and viable alternative that is available off the shelf.

I have installed a 3KW grid tie solar setup on my roof and it costed me a little more than 2L. Exactly an year ago, the same setup costed 4L. With falling prices for greener energy, we do not have to continue to depend on the coal powered thermal plants for long. The world is moving towards greener energy.
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Old 27th August 2016, 15:28   #9
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

I also owned a 2KW solar and micro wind turbine grid installed in the outskirts of Mumbai. In 2006. 10 years later, after enjoying the benefits of never paying for lighting and ventilation, the prices have fallen so significantly that it makes for an obviously favorable case.

I have always dreamed of powering my future Tesla by my own grid. In 10 years, perhaps this will be a reality in India?
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Old 27th August 2016, 17:58   #10
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

All the points are valid. However we must also consider the advantage that pollution will be localized to a different area so populated big metros will have cleaner air if EVs rise in popularity. Secondly, what about the energy consumed in running service centers? Authorized and private garages? Inventory and stock will be much more for a conventional ICE which will mean a lot more energy consumption in terms of transportation. Then there is the pollution caused by refineries responsible in supplying you with your annual engine oil change.

I am not a huge fan of electric vehicles in fact from a driver involvement stanpoint, I much prefer our good old petrol powered cars. But such focused reports and conclusions, seem to be propaganda generated by the big oil companies.

I would rather like to see a more detailed report investigating other details like maintenance in the long term, a comparison of energy consumed in the mining of coal vs the energy consumed in the extraction and refining of crude oil etc. I am no expert but it seems like someone high up has conveniently chosen only to ask one question and left many others out.

Last edited by IshaanIan : 27th August 2016 at 17:59.
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Old 27th August 2016, 17:59   #11
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
I have always dreamed of powering my future Tesla by my own grid. In 10 years, perhaps this will be a reality in India?
Amazing and perfect. How did you setup the windmill? Is it something available off the shelf?


The data provided in this thread is skewed. There is no case for not going towards the EV future.

The simple fact is that coal power stations has been running for decades but the problem of pollution and its related ill affects came up only after vehicular population increased exponentially in the recent years, says for itself.

Power generators (coal, gas) run at better efficiency and its exhaust can be much easily dispersed into the atmosphere away from human habitations. The opposite is the case with car engines where it is concentrated and directly affects the users.

Moreover we are gradually switching over to green (Solar, wind, hydro, biomass) energy which the Govt is pushing in a big way. All these together have incremental benefits which will sum up to obviate the need to burn petroleum for vehicles.

Disposal of LI Ion batteries can be accepted as a problem now, but we are still a decade away from 'crossing that bridge'. Sure to get resolved by that time.

Last edited by fordday : 27th August 2016 at 18:02. Reason: More info
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Old 27th August 2016, 19:30   #12
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

For those who find the data skewed or feel the thread is biased against EVs, here's the thing: it's not. I honestly don't feel any differently about either gasoline-powered or electric vehicles. Given the EV hype, I've been curious about how much greener they really are, and hence, did some research. It absolutely won't convince many, it hasn't yet convinced me!

The crux of the matter is, at the moment, are EVs greener than gasoline vehicles. For the most part, not.

As some data highlights, EVs are already greener in areas where electricity is generated off natural gas/renewable energy. But given India's reliance on coal for electricity generation, not yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Screwdriva View Post
I have always dreamed of powering my future Tesla by my own grid. In 10 years, perhaps this will be a reality in India?
That's great!

We have abundance when it comes to sunlight and wind and it's a pity we aren't harnessing them to their true potential.

From your grid, what is the kind of electricity you generate? I mean, how many appliances can you run, for how long?

Btw, I hope you've booked your Tesla

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
The other very controversial thing which, I think is under estimate,d is the environmental impact of producing and scrapping electrical cars. Not the cars itself but the batteries. It’s definitely going to be a problem and remarkably the green lobby hasn’t picked up on this at all.

It’s more an agenda of the anti-electrical car brigade then the green brigade.
True; this is always going to be a very controversial and complicated discussion. Perhaps for a few years until the electricity off renewable/natural sources is so prominent that EVs will be a no-brainer.

Another point: with the limited kind of access or knowledge that most of us have to data, most of our understanding will be based on someone's perspective. And that will depend on which side that someone is on!


Quote:
Originally Posted by fordday View Post
Power generators (coal, gas) run at better efficiency and its exhaust can be much easily dispersed into the atmosphere away from human habitations. The opposite is the case with car engines where it is concentrated and directly affects the users.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
All the points are valid. However we must also consider the advantage that pollution will be localized to a different area so populated big metros will have cleaner air if EVs rise in popularity.
I absolutely don't agree with this. Pollution be it in a metro, or in the middle of the ocean, is equally damaging. Sure, we don't get affected by the pollution that's happening in the middle of the ocean due to drilling, but it is causing just as much harm to the planet as the emissions from vehicles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
I would rather like to see a more detailed report investigating other details like maintenance in the long term, a comparison of energy consumed in the mining of coal vs the energy consumed in the extraction and refining of crude oil etc. I am no expert but it seems like someone high up has conveniently chosen only to ask one question and left many others out.
Then, purpose of the thread is served! Perhaps you can get off the critic's armchair and investigate "the other details"

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Old 27th August 2016, 19:47   #13
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
I absolutely don't agree with this.
What do you mean by this? On one hand you are agreeing that yes, humans living in populated cities will benefit from less air pollution and on the other you're saying you don't agree? Come on man, it's not like I said the planet doesn't get affected. Let us learn to agree to valid points and build a discussion. Aggressively defending reports in this manner can be done by anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Then, purpose of the thread is served! Perhaps you can get off the critic's armchair and investigate "the other details"
Woah! Wwhy so much hostility dude? I merely pointed out that other factors need to be taken into consideration. I clearly stated that I am no expert as well. I am not arguing against the data or the information gathered; simply stating that it is not enough to conclude that EVs pollute "17%-27% more than gasoline cars". That is just the way that I have been taught on how to interpret such things. If you don't agree and you would like to blindly believe such sweeping statements and conclusions that are based on what I feel is not enough data to form a strong foundation for such a conclusion, then I am fine with that Point I am making is that everything I brought up is relevant and until those aspects are investigated, I am not satisfied in coming to any big picture conclusion like this. I feel this ought to be reworded to an investigation on how clean EVs are in comparison to petrol cars based on XYZ factors and not just in general, given that they simply haven't investigated all possible contributing factors.

Last edited by Aditya : 28th August 2016 at 18:42. Reason: Typos
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Old 27th August 2016, 20:24   #14
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

What about the sources used to generate electricity? True, we have many coal powered plants producing electricity. But you could build plants to run on natural gas or even atomic power.

So at least in theory it is possible to clean up the source generating electricity.

But how will you clean up millions of vehicles polluting the environment?

So, while today you can't produce electricity without burning coal, you will have much cleaner alternatives including renewable energy to produce power. But you must have an electric vehicle to harness that.

How about a Reva with a solar panelled roof, a literal sun roof? It will charge itself up while you work in office. No coal, no oil. Clean, plain sunlight. Try that with a gasoline engine :-)
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Old 27th August 2016, 21:55   #15
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Default Re: So, just how "green" are Electric Vehicles (specifically in India)?

Quote:
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How about a Reva with a solar panelled roof, a literal sun roof? It will charge itself up while you work in office. No coal, no oil. Clean, plain sunlight. Try that with a gasoline engine :-)
Solar roofs on cars don't do much at all. You'd be extremely lucky to get back 10% of the total capacity in a day. This is why Tesla hasn't launched the feature despite multiple requests from customers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post

From your grid, what is the kind of electricity you generate? I mean, how many appliances can you run, for how long?

Btw, I hope you've booked your Tesla

I absolutely don't agree with this. Pollution be it in a metro, or in the middle of the ocean, is equally damaging. Sure, we don't get affected by the pollution that's happening in the middle of the ocean due to drilling, but it is causing just as much harm to the planet as the emissions from vehicles.
I can power all lighting, fans, a refrigerator, and TVs etc. The only thing that cannot be powered by a 2KW renewable system is an air conditioner.

I haven't booked a Tesla in India because they aren't available and because I don't believe we are ready for mass produced EV's yet, as a country. As this thread highlights, the awareness levels are too low amongst enthusiasts, so how can our politicians pass laws that are supportive if we ourselves know so little?

A great case in point is your comment on pollution in an urban center equalling pollution anywhere else. That's just not true simply because of the environment's ability to absorb up to a certain level of pollutants with minimal impact. In a major Indian city, with millions of inhabitants, that absorption threshold is far exceeded. And so, every new car on the road in Bombay or Bangalore damages the environment far more than a new car in a remote village for example.

Till a charging infrastructure exists, our best option is CNG. I really hope we as a nation embrace this fuel over the next decade while our EV awareness levels rise.

Last edited by Screwdriva : 27th August 2016 at 21:57.
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