Roland Folger, head of Mercedes India

NEW DELHI: Roland Folger, the head of Mercedes Benz in India, has raised doubts over the government’s intention to entirely switch over to electric vehicles by 2030, saying that the cumulative pollution due to electric cars is higher than BS4 vehicles.

Folger said that a large portion of E-cars pollute more than BS4 because the electricity used to power electric cars is produced using fossil fuels, which pollute the environment to an even higher degree.

“So far, no one has been able to dispute the fact that electric vehicles would be dirtier than a Bharat Stage 4 vehicle,” Folger told TOI as he questioned the government’s target of having an entire fleet run on electricity by 2030. “How can it make sense? I think there will be an equal distribution of around 30% for petrol, diesel and electric. That would make a lot of sense.”

The Mercedes India head said that nearly 65% of electricity in the country is produced using sources such as gas, oil, and coal. “… those power plants do not have any cleansing filters or whatever. They blow everything up in the air, and that’s why they can produce electric power for very cheap.”

Also, the low electricity prices may not hold on for long, especially with increased usage by vehicles owners. On the other hand, the price of diesel and other fuels will go down with less usage across the world, making them more affordable and desirable. Folger also said that it will be expensive for the Indian economy to make investments into cleaner, renewable power sources or charging stations at the pace at which the demand for power will come. “The investments in a nuclear power plant, or into greener technologies like wind, hydro and solar, can only be re covered by charging more for the electricity… electricity price could easily become more expensive than the equivalent in diesel. So, what are people going to buy?” He said developed economies, including countries such as Germany, have not been able to afford the transition.”It doesn’t happen in Europe, and now Europe has tonnes of more money for these kinds of issues, but it still doesn’t work… India is still a country that does not have these kinds of budgets, even post-GST.”

Pointing to a large amount of CO2 emissions during the manufacture of batteries, Folger said, “… the production of the battery leads to heavy CO2 emissions … that it takes nearly 7-8 years until they can lay out their benefits.” He said that safe disposal of batteries will be another critical issue as the government pushes for electric vehicles.

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