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How Can India Benefit from the Shift in Mobility?


Mobility, in future, will be seen not only as a transporter of people and goods but also as a service.

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India’s share of world income in the 1700 was around 35 per cent. In 1750s, India’s share of world income stood at 22.6 per cent, almost equal to 23.3 per cent of Europe’s share post the Mughal era. With the British rule, India’s share of world Income dropped to as low as 3.8 per cent. And today it stands at around 4.5 per cent.

From being a center of trade to one of world’s poorest countries, India is now the fastest growing economy but it has seen its opportunity misses. Now with a greater push towards Make in India, the Indian government is trying to capture such opportunities that have breakthrough potential as well as great value innovation in the macro-economic environment. And with the change in the way mobility is being looked at globally, automotive and transportation is definitely the next opportunity that India will witness, to create a dent in the international market.

Opportunity Lies in Today

Out of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 listed are from India. India imports about 200 million tonnes of crude oil annually that accounts for around 80 per cent of national oil requirement and one-third of the total import bill. Currently, New Delhi constitutes of around 556 motor vehicles per 1000 people while the numbers is 120 per 1000 people at the national level as a whole.

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Around 3 million vehicles were produced in India in 2017-18. It has been estimated that buses which constituted 1.2 per cent of total vehicles in NCR region in 2005-06 catered to around 60 per cent of the total travel demand. While energy consumption per passenger-km in a passenger car is approximately 1870-2340 KJ/PKm, it is about 215 KJ/PKm in a BRTS AC bus and about 85-87 KJ/PKm in Delhi Metro.

In India, the cost of loss of resources due to road congestion sums up to $20 billion every year. India’s urban population will nearly double in the next decade reaching around 600 million which will constitute of 500 million trips per day. From air pollution to safety, oil import bill to congestion, public transportation to energy generation and infrastructure to logistics, India needs to fix everything right. If India is able to find a solution to each of these problems, we will see a huge opportunity for the country to become the solution providers as well as technology suppliers for a number of emerging markets as well as matured markets.

Solutions From the West

Automakers as well as governments worldwide have shown their strong inclination towards ACES i.e. autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles. Starting from the shift of power generation from ICE using diesel or gasoline to bio-fuel mixtures to hybrids to fuel cells and finally to batteries, automotive industry will move towards greener and cleaner sources of energy. Moreover, with the implementation of electric technologies, additional sources of renewable energy will accompany.

Sharing will be the next trend that will focus towards optimizing passenger seats as well as logistics enabling fleet model of operation as a mobility solution. Connected infrastructure will help bridge any gap in communication between machines, be it between two vehicles or a vehicle and infrastructure. And autonomous vehicles will eliminate human error as well as abolish human dependency. Mobility, in future, will be seen not only as a transporter of people and goods but also as a service. Cities will transform to smart hubs where every locomotion problem will find a safe, cheap, environmental friendly, congestion free and point to point solution.

Futuristic & Sustainable Mobility

What India Needs to Do

But the real question is – what should India do to manage its own issues as well as become a solution and technology provider for the world. The problems that prevail in Indian transportation and logistics segment need a different approach.

I classify it as IMPM i.e. Infrastructure as a base, manufacturing as a value, public transportation as a product and mobility as a service. A rejig of intra-city multimodal integration is the first requirement. Passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, 2&3 wheeler’s (motored as well as non-motored) need to be connected with mass transportation options in the city such as train or metro or bus station with good facility of changing infrastructure as well as parking. These connections then need to be scaled for a better optimization of traffic and reach.

Manufacturing in India is the second requirement. With the shift in energy generation techniques, battery seems to be an inevitable future. Though India’s landscape lacks raw materials for the same (accounting of about 15-20% of value in a vehicle), if India is able to capture the component manufacturing expertise (40-45% of value in a vehicle) and assembly expertise (30-35% of value in a vehicle), the country will be able to lower its dependency on oil, invest in renewable energy portfolios and create opportunities for monopolistic exports.

The introduction of public transportation vehicles with root level connectivity as well as planned time table is the third requirement. Around 80 per cent of Indians travel for only 5 kms daily. A well-connected, fast and affordable intra & inter-city public transportation network will be a boon to energy consumption pattern per passenger per km. And finally when all this comes together, it creates an ecosystem of mobility as a service. Indian cities will become smart with multiple services provided on every nook and corner of the well connected space which will bring economic as well as sustainable development.

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