Why electric vehicles will be disastrous for Indian economy, explains Mercedes-Benz India MD Roland Folger

Mercedes Benz
Roland Folger

The Central government in India is aim to get rid of petrol and diesel vehicles from Indian roads by 2030. Last month, Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari suggested automakers in the country to gradually move to electric vehicles manufacturing.

According to the minister, the government is going to go after diesel vehicles in a big way.

However, the government’s stern policy also met with strong criticism from the auto industry. Now, luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz has included in the list of automakers who has urged the government “not to rush with the all-electric vehicles push”.

It suggested the government should consider better technological options as the rest of the world is racing to run on hydrogen and not electricity.

The car manufacturer also called for adopting a less ambitious plan of promoting e-cars arguing that a nationwide electrification of the auto industry is just not commercially and technologically viable.

“By 2040, the whole world will be driving home hydrogen cars. To me the whole plan to go electric nationwide looks like a rushed with the idea,” said Mercedes-Benz India managing director and chief executive Roland Folger talking to PTI.

He added that with such a rush, India is foreclosing options for better technologies for the future generations.

The new plan will also put a huge financial burden on the nation as the government will have to invest hundreds of billions of dollars into setting up charging stations and associated infrastructure.

According to Folger, the move would be “more counter-productive in terms of additional power demand, as you are still building and supporting thermal power plants.”

With the current coal-based power generation model, this would be more polluting as demand for electricity will jump manifold. “Do we have the finances to upgrade all our old thermal plants? Or can we go completely off polluting coal plants? If yes, what is the cost that such a plan will entail?” he wondered.

Folger suggested “plug-in hybrids” as the best option for the country despite such vehicles being costlier than e-cars.

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