It’s been almost two centuries since the first electric vehicles were conceptualised, and yet, the 21st century is recognised as a rebirth for the segment. Despite early success, electric vehicles (EV) fell short in the race against commercial petrol and diesel vehicles. But now, fuelled by the rising concern for environmental sustainability, EVs have come back and are poised to make the internal combustion engine (ICE) a thing of the past in the next few decades.

To celebrate the benefits of EVs in shaping a better future for the people and the planet, September 9 is marked as World EV Day. It is a global movement to drive change, celebrate e-mobility, and promote sustainable transport.

On this occasion, we caught up with Gul Panag, a popular Indian actor, producer and entrepreneur. She has been a champion of sustainable lifestyle practices for decades and promotes using electric vehicles to combat climate change and air pollution. Gul has started a new chapter in her entrepreneurial journey by co-founding Sunfuel Electric, a start-up that aims to provide seamless charging experiences for electric vehicles across India.

“I was fascinated by the fact that even the first generation EVs, around 7-8 years ago, are 98% efficient (in terms of energy utilisation). Compare this to the ICE (age), where even the most efficient ones are about 42-45%. My primary vehicle for commute is electric for the last seven years. And it’s fun to drive,” says Gul.

Sudhir Nayak, Founder and Chief Driver of Sunfuel Electric, also joined us for the conversation. Sudhir is a master black belt in six sigma — a quality-control process that businesses use to eliminate defects and improve processes. Building on his management experience, he ventured into this sustainability-oriented business to contribute to climate action.

“Sustainable practices in most cases are also efficient practices like we see with the EVs vs fossil fuel engine. This is the core axiom, and everything else can be built on it. More efficiency can be translated into cost-effectiveness. So, I advise young entrepreneurs to convey this message to the consumers. As the book ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ says, appeal to their self-interest, and not to their mercy,” explains Sudhir.

The EV landscape in India is gaining momentum, backed by state incentives, proven viability of EVs, and the growing trend of greener lifestyle choices among Indians. As the government aims to have 30% of vehicles sold in India be electric by 2030, the EV market in India is expected to be valued at $2 billion by 2023. As the battery costs drop gradually, most consumers realise the long-term cost benefits of owning an EV. Companies like Sunfuel are now stepping up to address the concerns around charging infrastructure.

“There is a great opportunity for behavioural modification in the EV space as well. At Sunfuel, we have three pillars: city, highway, and destination charging. The decision for one’s next car can be influenced by the availability of charging stations at the places one frequents. The early adopters have the potential, aided by media, to be accelerators and force multipliers of the change we desperately need now!” narrates Gul.

The statistics show that the transition is no longer gradual, but is happening at an exponential pace. The share of EVs in the global automobile market doubled in just one year, from 2020 to 2021. With more than three lakh units sold in 2021, India is catching up fast. Some environmentalists even say that buying a fossil fuel-intensive vehicle in the 21st century is a crime against humanity. But this transition must be aided with sufficient infrastructure on the ground to make it sustainable and long-lasting.

World EV Day reminds us to think again before opting for a fossil fuel vehicle and promote sustainable mobility as the future of transportation!

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