There’s a raging debate going on in India’s automotive world right now, about the harms of conventional I.C engines on the environment and the impracticality of owning an EV today. With both sides engaged in a tug-of-war, we’ve asked some experts to share their views on the matter. 

But first, let’s take a look at the arguments on both sides. It is no secret that conventional fossil fuel-powered automobiles, apart from burning fuel, are burning a massive hole in the pocket of consumers. According to an Al Jazeera report, fuel prices have gone up by 26 per cent since March of this year, with the major brunt of it affecting economically challenged individuals who rely on partner programmes offered by the likes of Zomato, Swiggy, Uber, and Ola.

On the surface, the solution looks simple. Why don’t we just switch to CNG or electric-powered vehicles? While the option of switching to natural gas is picking up steam among both commercial and personal car owners, the supply is still plagued by a huge influx of demands. It is not surprising to see serpentine queues of cars and rickshaws outside a CNG pump. And let’s not forget, this option completely alienates the entire two-wheeler market, which makes up a majority of the road population in India. 

Switching to an all-electric source is even more challenging if you do not live in Tier 1 or Tier 2 cities. While metros like Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi have an EV infrastructure (somewhat), the issue of supply again outweighs demand. There simply aren’t enough EV charging stations to go around, if we were to completely stop using fossil fuel. Not to mention, the option of installing a home charger is only viable for those who live in an apartment, again alienating most of the Indian population. The convenience of heading to a petrol station and getting a top-up in less than 5 minutes is still too tempting to quit. 

There’s no arguing that going forward, the future is indeed electric, but what about now? What do we do now? The answer is subject to countless hours of debate based on the facts we mentioned earlier. And we haven’t even discussed the seemingly high price points of even buying an EV right now. 

So, we asked our five auto journalists friends to share their opinion. The question is simple: Would you consider buying an EV right now? If not, what changes do you want to see being implemented before putting your cash down? Here’s what they said:

Paranjay (herr_joy), Man’s World India/The Car Cult

“I’m unlikely to buy a new car, especially when there are some unquestionably great examples available used. There’s a substantial amount of pollution that happens due to production, and I don’t want to add to that.

As far as my move to EVs is concerned, if we’re in a position to make clean energy, and with battery production and disposal issues sorted, someday… Not in the near future, though. There are way too many conventionally powered cars that I must enjoy before thinking of EVs. Having said that, a city runabout EV sounds very tempting. Like a 500e.”

Siddharth (motusid), Car Wale

“Having driven everything from the Tata Tigor EV to the BMW i4, the want for an electric car in my life is really high. But I can’t imagine myself getting one until it becomes as easy to charge up as an ICE-powered car is to fuel up. I don’t want to be anxious when the charge goes low, worry about if a charging point will be available and how long it might extend my onward journey. I see that sort of seamless driving experience becoming a reality in a decade or so.”

Dhruv Attri (dhruvattri208), What Car? India

“I’ll consider an EV but only as a secondary car for at least the next five years. It will primarily be used for city runabouts owing to the significantly lower running costs. For outstation trips, my choice of wheels will continue to run an ICE.”

Arun Shenoy (motor_noter), Car Dekho/ZigWheels

“Will I buy an EV today? Absolutely. Provided I have a firm handle on my daily usage. If the car’s required for nothing more than a fixed daily commute within the city, practically all EVs available are up for that task. Savings in fuel costs and emissions are bonuses.

Some food for thought: the Tata Nexon EV Max costs as much as a compact SUV from a segment above. It matches it in terms of acceleration, space and has about as many features. The MG ZS EV brings in the same value set at a different price point. For someone who wants to experience an electric vehicle, there isn’t really a huge compromise to begin with.”

“We’re at the cusp of seeing some really great EVs we can drive day-in day-out without being worried sick of running out of juice. The only real stumbling block right now is having access to a high-speed public charging infrastructure that actually works. This infrastructure is demanding in terms of space and time – both of which aren’t particularly abundant. That said, I see this as something that’d get ironed out before we know it.

Sure, I hear the petrolhead in me screaming for more feel, something that makes me ‘connect’ to the car. But I’m willing to accept a new experience. Driving a properly quick electric like the Audi e-tron GT reaffirmed what was a hunch. The giggles are still there to be had. It’s just delivered differently. Cars are changing fundamentally, and it’s about time we do too.”

(Image credits: Kia India, Maruti Suzuki, MG Motors, BMW, Fiat, Tata Motors)