Yesterday, Road Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari said that he wants the pace of car sales in India to slow down, especially those running on diesel as that is creating a lot of pollution. He wants car makers to simply start making electric cars, and dump petrols and diesels. For the record, Minister Gadkari owns a Honda CR-V, whose mileage is about 7-8 Kmpl.
Here is what he had to say:
You may not like it, but I wish it from my heart that your growth should be less. If this growth continues, I will need to add one more lane to national highways, which will cost a whopping Rs 80,000 crore.
I am going to do it, whether you like it or not. I will bulldoze. Petrol diesel banaane walon kaa band-baajaa bajaanaa hai (We will take the makers of petrol/diesel engine vehicles to task).
Even my chef comes in a car. There are too many cars, which is also leading to parking problems. I think the car industry should also go in for finding parking solutions, and look at an integrated approach. If only one person needs to travel, why should he use a car?
What is he trying to say?
According to Gadkari, way too many cars are being sold in the country, which is not only resulting in higher levels of pollution, but also traffic snarls. In order to reduce that, investment on road works is massive. He indicated that there must be cut down of car usage across the country, especially in smaller towns.
He goes on to say that they are working on a new platform that would help makes cabs more easily available, even the use of two wheelers. Regarding the pollution aspect, the government revealed that it will shift to electric vehicles only from 2030. For this, more innovation, research and higher level of engineering will be required.
They are also looking at shifting to alternate fuels in the mean while. He added that cost of batteries have reduced which means electric vehicles would get cheaper and the industry should concentrate more on them. Cleaner fuels will also be needed, since we currently only have the provision for BS4 fuels.
Killing the golden goose?
The Indian car industry is facing tough times. On one side, there is slow demand for new cars which the companies are trying to cope with and then on the other hand, there are changes in policies that are creating issues. The automobile industry contributes to nearly 50 % of all manufacturing activity in India.
Will such knee jerk policies made Indians suddenly start driving electric cars or will it simply destroy the car industry here? This, time will tell.