Electric vehicle Beyond the hype

Electric vehicle Beyond the hype

Electric vehicle Beyond the hype
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KARACHI: The use of electric vehicles by countries vary worldwide, as the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles is affected by the consumer demand, market prices, availability of charging infrastructure, and government policies.

The electric vehicles had already caught the interest of a large population of the developed countries and Pakistani public also awaits with excitement. Leaving the infrastructure issue to be discussed later, it still remains unanswered whether we are ready, as the price of these vehicles are still unknown.

How many could afford these electric vehicles, which are anticipated to be at least Rs5 million or more. BMW, Mercedes and Audi were already present in Pakistan, while Tesla with its completely-build-up units (CBUs) would be here any day. These vehicles are not cheap. MG Motors is launching electric version of its SUV, which is expected to be around Rs6.5 million (ex-factory).

Indus Motor Company and Honda Cars are also progressing towards launching electric vehicles. It is still unclear whether there will be local manufacturing, or the imported CBUs of Toyota and Honda. That would be a big burden on the country’s import bill.

The Pakistan government announced an extremely progressive Auto Policy that encourages new technologies such as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hybrids. The government’s consistent effort to promote the local automotive industry in the hybrid sub-sector is noteworthy. Its intent to locally develop the hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to mitigate climate change and reduce dependency on oil imports is appreciable.

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Having said that, the continuous depreciation of the rupee against the dollar and yen, rising inflation and international commodity prices will continue to be the vital factors that have an impact on the cost of production and purchasing power of the market.

When Tesla came out with its first series of electric vehicles, its success was largely due to a lucrative cash subsidy that the governments of the US and Canada directly gave to the consumers, which made a very expensive car more affordable for the buyer. The attraction for the electric vehicles is also due to the awareness about global warming the effects of which had already started becoming visible.

Tesla built its own free-of-charge charging stations in many locations, making its products even more attractive. The future of the transportation world indeed lies in the electric vehicles and the question is how Pakistan can best prepare for that future. As the technology will take many years to fully mature, Pakistan should make a gradual, phase-wise entry into the electric vehicle space.

Coming to the infrastructure, the shortfall of electricity and the lack of charging infrastructure are the major reasons why electric vehicles aren’t considered by the public.

Charging time required by the electric vehicles and the driving range that they offer are considered to be the negative factors that discourage the local consumers from buying electric vehicles.

Also given the amount of power outages and the hanging sword of the circular debt, home and electric charging stations might not receive uninterrupted electricity supplies. It is more often questioned whether Pakistan’s power generation capacity will be able to cater to the increased demand from electric vehicles in the future.

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The high cost of lithium-ion batteries due to the lack of local production, regulations, and incentives for it is also hindering the adoption and assembling of good quality electric vehicles in Pakistan.

Nonetheless, several members of the international automobile industry, including South Korea, China, and Japan also believe that Pakistan has a high potential market for the electric vehicle technology, and local businesses are collaborating with them to bring such cars in Pakistan.

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