As India dreams of becoming a 100 per cent electric vehicle (EV) nation by 2030, the Union government has chosen IIT-Madras professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala to give wings to the ambitious programme.
Jhunjhunwala, who himself drives an electric car and is one of India’s leading innovators in electronics and battery systems, has been appointed as the advisor in the Ministry of Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy. Sources said the process of formalising the appointment is underway.
He just returned from New Delhi after week-long discussions with Power Minister Piyush Goyal and also gave a detailed presentation on how India should look ahead in achieving the goal. He is likely to make another presentation before Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Reacting to the development, Jhunjhuwala said, “I lived my entire professional life in IIT Madras, in a peaceful environment and it’s a tough decision to go to Delhi unless I can make a mark and contribute a little towards this national goal.” The ambitious programme seeks to make electric vehicles ubiquitous in cities choking on diesel and petrol fumes. A small working group under the leadership of Road Minister Nitin Gadkari has been created with Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on its board. The group has set up an inter-ministerial government panel, of which Jhunjhunwala is already a member.
Sources said Jhunjhunwala would hold the first formal meeting with the joint secretaries of all four ministries on Thursday. Statistics show that today India has about 200 million vehicles plying on the road of which less than one per cent are electric vehicles (including scooters).
In his talk during an international conference on ‘Sustainable Green Buildings and Communities’ at the IIT Madras Research Park on Monday, Jhunjhunwala said India can make the shift for the simple reason that electric motors available today are 90-95 per cent energy efficient when compared to Internal Combustion Engines, which give only 17-21 per cent energy efficiency.
Several countries across the world are already turning the spotlight on EVs. In Norway, 60 per cent of all cars sold are electric/hybrid. Denmark declared full-conversion to EVs by 2025. Meanwhile, sales of EVs in China grew three fold last year. In electric two-wheelers, China is the global leader with over 24 million sold a year and over 120 million in operation.
A total of 80,000 electric buses were added last year targeting 70 per cent of its entire fleet electrified by 2020. Around 2,000 companies produce Li-Ion battery and 4,000 companies produce EV drivetrains, Jhunjhunwala said, adding that India too has to transform rapidly.