Fleet electrification to tackle urban pollution

Fleet electrification to tackle urban pollution

Context: The air quality index (AQI) in numerous cities across India has consistently reached the red zone on multiple occasions this year. This has posed significant health risks to millions of individuals, highlighting the urgent need to prioritize mitigation strategies.

Status of Truck Fleet in India:
• The number of trucks on the road is steadily rising, with approximately 900,000 new trucks being added to India’s existing fleet of 7 million trucks each year.
• India transports more than 2 trillion tonne-kilometers of freight by trucks annually. These trucks, which make up over 70 lakh in total, account for more than a quarter of India’s oil imports and contribute to over 90% of CO2 emissions from road transport.
• As the road network continues to expand in a developing economy, the growth in the truck fleet is expected to persist. If all these new trucks continue to rely on diesel-powered internal combustion engines, as is currently the case, it will lead to a significant increase in PM2.5 pollution in our cities.

Need for E-trucks:
• The recent demand for 7,750 e-trucks in India by 2030, if it materialises, will result in the country saving over 800 billion litres of diesel till 2050. However, the Indian truck fleet is likely to reach a figure of 1.7 crore in 2050.
• Although achieving more than 50% electrification in three-wheelers is a significant accomplishment for India’s 2070 net zero agenda, the decarbonization of the transport sector must be spearheaded by the electrification of trucks.
• Public funding alone is insufficient. A strategic approach involves creating bankable projects to attract private and institutional capital, accelerating the transition to electric trucks.

What needs to be done?
• Strategic Declarations: Designating expressways and national highways as green freight corridors can serve as a national model. Accelerated feasibility studies and a conducive regulatory environment are crucial for their success.
• Demonstration Effect: Green freight corridors, starting with shorter 500-kilometer stretches on heavily trafficked routes, can demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of electrified freight transport.
• Financial Innovation: To accelerate truck electrification, a combination of innovative financial instruments, robust charging infrastructure incentives, and a supportive regulatory framework is essential for transformative change. 

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