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A good lesson

The long drawn controversy surrounding the second-hand electric cars that are being driven as taxis is heading to an end, albeit one cabbie that is taking the dealer to court.

While we wait for the court to look into the case, the four others have finally got what they want. They were given a sweet deal. The company will repay the loan and refund the money they invested initially. The profit they made belongs to them. We could sense a feeling of relief among the drivers, who initially thought they would save on fuel, make profit and set an example for the rest, as the government fervently pursue an environment friendly transport system.

The plan didn’t really go as envisioned, but that shouldn’t discourage decision makers from switching to electric.  The problem was not with the policy of going electric. The problem arose because we compromised in some areas. The e-taxis were second hand. They couldn’t live up to the expectations of the drivers or the claims made by the dealer. The battery ran out faster than they thought and hampered business.

Those driving brand new electric cars are not complaining. In fact, at least for now, they are happily avoiding the fuel stations. Taxis are different. They clock at least a hundred kilometres everyday, if the battery allows, and wear and tear including to the battery is expected. Second hand cars will not last as much as the new ones. Therefore, from the drama surrounding the e-taxis that has even reached the Parliament and caught the eye balls of the anti graft commission, we could conclude that we made a mistake.

The government is already reconsidering the policy on import of second hand electric cars.  It may be legal as the government believes, but if it is not serving the purpose, it is only wiser to ban it. There is already a policy that bans import of used cars. For whatever reasons, discussion on the electric cars always takes a political turn whether it is the dealer, the government or those opposing it. Even the media that report on issues related to e-cars are accused of siding political parties. This blurs good decision-making process.

From the recent experience, we learnt that used cars, electric or mechanical are not good. This is a good lesson as the communication ministry mulls over starting public transportation that are run by electricity. There is no doubt that such alternatives should be explored. The import bill of fuel that almost eats up the revenue we earn from selling electricity says it all.

Given our terrain, electric cars are best used for short travels like driving to office and back home. That’s why we have good feedback from those who own one. We have a grand idea of going zero emission on the road, but not many are convinced to switch to electric. A detailed study to see the feasibility is what we need.

There is reportedly one done months ago, but it is still being “analysed” to go public.

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