Sustainable transport may be the new buzzword among governments who are encouraging eco-friendly means of travel, but the real change needs to be brought by automakers, the ones manufacturing the means. For India specifically, the need for sustainable public transport and commercial vehicles is a dire need as vehicular emissions have been one of the biggest contributors for the poor air quality levels in the country.
Although the government has been aggressively pushing towards alternate transport solutions, few automakers have been able to reflect the same though the vehicles they build. Swedish automaker, Volvo which entered India more than a decade ago believes sustainable transport is the only way forward for the auto industry.
The need for green transport
"The need for sustainable transport is now and it’s urgent, “said Lars Stenqvist, CTO Volvo Group and Executive Vice President Volvo Group Trucks Technology at a CII Summit in Bengaluru. "We cannot be taking that long to find solutions and if possible should have workable models in less than 5 years," he added.
The company says it has already started working on technology that supports alternate fuels with models of LNG-based buses on the radar. In India it is actively testing electro-hybrid buses that can be used for public transport.
One of the biggest challenges facing clean technology, especially in the auto sector is the cost. Most eco-friendly enthusiasts and even governments shy away from electric vehicles, owing to the huge difference in pricing when compared with traditional vehicles that run on fossil fuels. Stenqvist believes any futuristsic change that requires cost escalation is tough, but it will gain momentum.
“When we first proposed the idea for using Volvo buses as public transport in India, no one supported the idea. It was a difficult task convincing stakeholders that people would be willing to pay the extra cost to use these buses,” said Stenqvist. “But look now it is being used widely as one of the most reliable modes of public transport in this country,” he added.
The company is hopeful that as R&D in the sector advances and support from stakeholders increase, the costs will eventually come down.