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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Electric Car Comparison Flawed by Kuensel!

There was this piece in Kuensel that really disturbed me saying that Electric Cars in Bhutan are not even Evnrionmentally Friendly, forget being economical. I believe it is totally flawed on wrong asusumptions. Bhutan is one of the first places on earth that have the most advantage of using electric cars.
This is the article.. followed by my say.

Electric Car Comparison Flawed by Kuensel!
On the Kuensel issue of May 6, 2015 there was a report suspecting that the Electric Cars are environmentally worse and economically not comparable to, Maruti Altos. I beg to differ, and provide following justifications. By the way, I am only an electric car user and an Environmental professional and Engineer.

1.       CDM benefits are easier said than done and are not applicable for all of our projects;
Yes, in theory the Dagachhu power generation could be sold on the CDM market and enable Bhutan to receive Carbon credits and subsequent payment. However, the Koyoto Protocol and CDM modalities itself are under major reviews and there is no guarantee that the credits will be paid up without proper buyers and validation. Also, currently Bhutan’s total power consumption is only to the tune of only about 15% of our total generation and the rest are exported to India. This excludes Dagachhu and future hydropower projects that are potential for CDM benefits. Therefore, what we will be using for charging our electric cars will not be from the new and upcoming projects which could be used on the CDM market. The power from our existing Chukhha or Tala or Kurichhu are way more than we can ever use for chagrining our cars. CDM certification of new hydropower projects and use of electricity for electric cars are NOT one or other scenario in Bhutan’s case.
On the other hand, if we are strategic, we can even sell the idea of CDM certification of  our electric cars. By the theoretical CDM criteria it will qualify and easier to monitor and verify.

2.       Comparison of Maruti Alto’s mileage and its impact on CO2 emission to that of Nissan Leaf is comparing Apples and Oranges;
I like the maths in the Maruti Alto Vs Nissan Leaf. But one of the basic assumption is wrong in the calculation. Maruti Alto at Nu 500,000 is an economical car with basic functionality. Nissan Leaf at Nu 1.48M is a compact car with state-of-the-art functions such as 6 Air Bags, Seat-heating systems, Automatic Transmissions, rear camera, bluetbooth compatibility, intelligent key with push start, full leather seats, rear wiper and heater among other things. A fair comparison on that front will be use the capital cost of Mahindra Reva  (costing about 500,000) to that of  Maruti Alto  and  Nissan Leaf to a sedan such as a  Hyundai Accent/Sonata (1.4M+).
Based on these revised comparisons, my maths tells me that if one wants to drive a slightly more expensive car such as a Accent/Sontana or for that matter  the recent hot cakes Ford EcoSport  or Nissan Terrano or Duster, Nissan Leaf will take the trophy for Life cycle cost analysis and emissions.  For the entry level, we will need to compare Maruti Alto with smaller, simpler electric cars such as Reva.
As far as I know, Bhutan is only one of the few countries in the world, wherein all of the fossil fuels (diesel, petrol etc) are imported and almost all of our electricity is hydro-renewable energy. We thus have the most urgent and crucial need to substitute the import of fossil fuels by all means possible. This will not only make the country economically better off but also energy less dependent. I actually believe that the government should further incentivize the purchase and use of electric cars. In other countries, besides the no-tax, further rebates also provided.
In many countries, the use and promotion of electric cars are hindered by the big rich oil companies due to their vested interest in having a perpetual market for themselves. We do not have that in Bhutan. It seems our oil importers and business fraternity is in full support of national security and environmental justice. In Bhutan’s case, we can perhaps look into lower registration costs for electric cars; better loan interests by the banks through a collaboration with BOIC; special savings account for electric car owners, specially taxi owners from their savings; setting up of fast-charging stations at important nodes; and also helping diversify the fleet in the country from other manufacturers to avoid any monopoly and criticism of favoring one or two suppliers alone.

1 comment:

  1. yeah chimmi, i was also totally disturbed. I really don't care or know about the political views and issues, but I personally feel that such flawed article should not be posted in Kuensel. I also brought out this issue in my facebook group called "Energy and Society".