Karnataka transport minister promotes electric vehicles

Bengaluru: Karnataka Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy rode on a battery-driven bicycle on Sunday here to promote greater use of electric vehicles and mark the World Environment Day.

“Electric vehicles are future of road transport as they are economical, energy eco-friendly and energy efficient. Technologies have to be developed to make them affordable, sustainable and safe for all,” he said.

Flagging off a 15km electric vehicles rally in the city’s southern suburb, Reddy said the state government was encouraging people to use more electric cars and bikes by waiving road taxes on them so as to reduce air pollution and carbon emission.

“Promotional events like car and bike rallies, exhibitions and workshops will not only create awareness on benefits of electric vehicles to commute, but also inspire people to switch over from petrol and diesel vehicles,” he said.

Exhorting people to participate in such events in large numbers to set an example, Reddy said the need for using electric vehicles was more in cities like Bengaluru, which is choking with around six million petrol and diesel vehicles.

“If majority of people use electric cars and bikes for commuting in and around the city, Bengaluru will be a better place to live again, with clean air and greenery as in the past,” he said.

Responding to the minister’s call, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation Managing Director Ekroop Caur said the state-run operator was keen on using more electric buses though some of them were being used on pilot basis.

“As evolving with changing times is essential for sustenance, electric vehicles will be the new transport mode as they are eco-friendly, cost-effective and pollution-free. We are keen on learning and adapting them through strategic tie-ups,” Caur said at a workshop on ‘electric vehicles in public transport – challenges and opportunities’ here.

BMTC was first in the country to launch a battery-operated zero emission bus service in February 2014 on trial basis with trips on main routes across the city.

As the imported vehicle was cost prohibitive (Rs.2.7 crore) and its battery needed six hour charging for plying 250 km, its service was discontinued after three months though it was popular with commuters.

Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, the central government’s Department of Heavy Industries and BMTC organised the promotional event where a range of electric vehicles of different models were displayed for public viewing.

“The overwhelming response of the people to the event is a testimony to the growing demand for electric vehicles in the city as a clean and alternative energy solution to the fossil-fuel driven vehicles, especially for transporting commuters,” said Ampere Vehicles chief executive Annamalia Hemalatha said.

Heavy Industries Department Director (auto) Pravin Agarwal affirmed that electric vehicles were the future of mass transportation for environmental sustainability.

About 500 people of all ages and walks of life participated in the day-long events.