In developed countries, the ratio of emissions of greenhouse gases from vehicles in total volume of environmental pollution is 20 percent but here in Pakistan it is 40 percent. And if not controlled the country’s major cities are expected to be as paralyzed as an smog-enveloped New Delhi is today – with Lahore appearing to be its first victim. But, hopefully, things will not come to such a sorry pass – the federal cabinet on Tuesday gave its go-ahead to Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) in Pakistan. The EVs are all the rage for their potential to arrest the alarming climate change and destructive global warming. The other advantages of EVs are affordable transportation cost, drastically-cut oil import bill, a major boost to local car industry and creation of new jobs. By switching to electric vehicles, the country would save over Rs 110 billion annually. According to the plan approved by the cabinet, 30 percent of total number of vehicles in the country will be turned into electric cars. The minister was “surprised to see that local car manufacturers are waiting for the cabinet’s approval for a policy on EVs so that they can roll out their electric vehicles into the market’’. In fact, pretty good homework in this respect was already done. According to a plan finalized by the Board of Investment, by 2030 EVs will constitute half of the annual 900,000 sales of 2-, 3- and 4-wheel-driven vehicles; their share will rise to 90 percent.
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But how to go about it remains a challenge. Producing or manufacturing EVs will require a whole new manufacturing mechanism. Moreover, the existing auto industry, which has so far given only lukewarm response to this proposed initiative, will be required to play a proactive role in this regard. It, however, argues that the policy to introduce EVs in the country is contradictory to Auto-Industry Development Policy 2016-2021, and unlike the US, China and India, which indigenously manufacture EVs, Pakistan will rely on major imports. That, perhaps, is not the whole truth – a number of entrepreneurs are already in the field. One other challenge is the source of electricity for the EVs. In terms of climate change and global warming the saving on pollutants would be expended if electricity for the EVs is to be supplied by coal-fired power plants. Some other disincentives include absence of proper charging mechanism, revenue collection, import duty statistics and infrastructure for self-assembly industry in the country. Also prohibitive are lack of awareness among the common car buyers about the EVs over the combustion engine vehicles, required charging time and relatively restricted driving range. However, no less attractive are the advantage EVs have over vehicles run on internal combustion engines. They release no tail-pipe air pollutants and are far less noisy. Also, the EVs claim 90 percent energy conservation efficiency. The other and certainly more appealing incentives that justify introduction of electric vehicles in Pakistan are less air pollution and fuel consumption; these are the main incentives that justify introduction of electric vehicles.
(This news/article originally appeared in Business Recorder on November 7th, 2019)