BBCTechnology

Charging ahead

From battery-powered delivery trucks and rickshaws, to Formula E racing cars, electric vehicles are entering the mainstream. But will a lack of investment in charging infrastructure hold the market back?
In 2015 single mum Sushila Devi was struggling to make ends meet and didn’t even have the money to send her three kids to school.
However, thanks to low-cost electric vehicle technology, the 30-year-old from the state of Bihar, North East India found a solution.
With a loan from a local charity, she bought an e-rickshaw – a type of taxi powered by a three-wheeled electric scooter – and started carrying passengers in her hometown of Bodh Gaya.
The town, famed as the place Buddha is said to have obtained enlightenment, is popular with tourists and worshippers who make up most of her customers.
Now, she earns 10,000 to 12,000 rupees a month (£110-£135; $145-$175) and 20,000 rupees in peak season – enough to send her two oldest children to a nearby school, she says.
Shamsul Akhtar of Karuna-Shechen, the charity that provided the loan, says e-rickshaws could create thousands of new jobs for underprivileged women like Ms Devi, while encouraging environmentally friendly transport .
Firstly, they cost just 38,000 rupees to run per year – “about half as much as running an older petrol-powered rickshaw”, he says.
They’re also popular with regulators. Bodh Gaya now only allows e-rickshaws, not their more polluting cousins, within 5km of the town’s ornate temples.
Rapid growth
From rickshaws to buses, cars to delivery lorries, electric vehicles are going mainstream and not just in the richer developed nations.
“We’re about to cross four million electric vehicles on the road globally some time in August,” says Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Of course, that’s only a sliver of the total number of vehicles on the road, but it’s steeply up from just 500,000 in 2014.
He expects even more growth by the mid-2020s, when electric vehicles “will cost the same as ones powered by internal combustion engines”, posing a huge challenge to petrol vehicles.

Source: BBC
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