The Indian automobile sector, particularly in the passenger segment, is rapidly transitioning from fossil fuel-based vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs). It is critical that this transition expands further to address issues related to climate change and energy security.
But equally important is the inclusivity and equity aspect of this transition. The rate of growth of EVs in India, though recommendable, is limited to metro cities and urban pockets. There is a significant differential between EV adoption rates between urban and rural masses. From the perspective of both just transition and achieving the mobility targets in order to address sustainability issues, this differential needs bridging.
Rural India, home to over 70% of the Indian population, is a key aspect of energy transition. It essential to understand the barriers for the EV market in venturing to the rural areas of India, both from the perspectives of supply and demand side as well as the public and private domain. This would help enable formulation of strategies and interventions required specifically in peri-urban and rural areas to develop an efficient and electric driven transport network that is at par with urban areas in terms of infrastructure, accessibility, and service.
About the Project
Rural mobility in India faces several challenges that inhibit efficient transportation and connectivity. Public transportation services are often inadequate or non-existent. The absence of regular bus or train services makes it challenging for residents to travel to nearby towns or cities for education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Even people with private vehicle such as motorbikes or cars also face challenges like low density of fuelling stations and a poor after-sales market.
Many rural residents cannot afford private vehicles, leading to transportation challenges and dependence on others for commute purposes. This presents an opportunity to enhance accessibility to electric mobility options in peri-urban and rural areas that are cost-effective and can significantly contribute to developing an environmentally conscious and efficient transport infrastructure.
This project is well aligned with the idea of a clean energy transition as it aims to replace the existing transport networks from fossil-fuel-driven vehicles to electric vehicles and build new networks where these are inadequate or non-existent through electric mobility interventions. A cost-effective and efficient commute option would improve the accessibility to better education, healthcare, employment, and business opportunities, thereby contributing to socio-economic development in rural communities. This progress would also help bridge the gender divide, which is preferential due to several factors, with weak financial conditions and lack of education being the prominent ones. Encouraging collaborative commute related efforts within communities would also address the issues of marginalised communities.
A just and inclusive clean energy transition would require diversifying economies and creating equal opportunities for citizens to engage in multiple roles across multiple sectors that are newly formed. Developing an electric mobility infrastructure in rural and peri-urban areas could open multiple channels for people to align themselves with this transition and subsequently engage in other sustainable employment-generating practises like distributed renewable energy and climate-responsive agriculture, owing to enhanced awareness of the benefits offered.
American Friends of EdelGive Foundation is a nonprofit organisation set up with the vision to invest in unconventional programs that provide solutions to deep-rooted social inequalities and build the capacities of credible grassroots organizations in India that work towards that goal. It aims to fulfil this purpose through a focus on three key segments of society – Women, Children and Vulnerable Communities.
Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS)
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