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Monday, July 04, 2022

CSTEP study: Behavioural shifts will drive decarbonisation in transport sector

Understanding consumer behaviour in terms of what makes consumers decide on one mode of transport over another is crucial for devising effective interventions, the CSTEP study said.

Written by Aksheev Thakur | Bengaluru |
May 26, 2022 3:00:12 pm
The CSTEP conducted a modelling study which revealed that it is the purchase price and not the total cost of ownership that drives EV uptake in India. (Representational)

In order to gain a sound understanding of what role do socio-economic factors like gender, age, income and mode-specific technical ones like travel time and cost and range play in determining the behavioural shifts in the transport sector, especially with regards to the adoption of electric vehicles (EV), the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) conducted a modelling study which revealed that it is the purchase price and not the total cost of ownership (TCO) that drives EV uptake in India.

Transport being the major contributor to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in India, experts have often suggested that EV, shift to public transport (PT), and promotion of non-motorised transport (NMT) are some of the key strategies for bringing down emissions. However, these require substantial behavioural change.

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Thus, understanding consumer behaviour in terms of what makes consumers decide on one mode of transport over another is crucial for devising effective interventions. Factors that influence consumer preferences include socio-economic ones like gender, age, income and mode-specific technical ones like travel time and cost, and range (for electric vehicles particularly), etc, the study stated.

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The study, authored by Trupti Deshpande, Ramya Natarajan, Upasna Ranjan, Krithika Ravishankar and Aswathy K P said, “It also found that travel time determines the shift to public transport over travel cost; a range of 50-70 kilometre is sufficient for daily urban commuters in India; and convenience (in the form of seamless connectivity) and safety determine the shift to non-motorised transport.”

In a move towards the effective implementation of emission reducing strategies in the transport sector, the study recommends the inclusion of a provision of different battery capacity options (inter-city and intra-city) for reducing the overall capital cost of EVs.

There should be a stringent scrapping policy for old/polluting vehicles and improved public transport infrastructure. An area-wise detailed assessments for comfortable and safe NMT infrastructure; and first-and last mile connectivity options for the public transport system are the other recommendations made in the study.

The benefits of transitioning to EVs, NMT, and public transport are also estimated under the study. “The overall gain from such a shift will manifest in definite reductions in GHG emissions and air pollution, and improve the quality of life in cities. More specifically, by 2030, if 30 percent of all passenger-kilometres in urban areas are electric, GHG emissions from urban passenger transport can reduce by ~10 percent, as compared to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. Moreover, if the average share of NMT and public transport in Indian cities increases by 20 percent by 2030, GHG emissions from urban passenger transport can reduce by another 10 percent, as compared to BAU,” the study says.

It also lists the major barriers in attaining a clean mobility transition as well. “Some of these are: the investment dilemma for automobile manufacturers, considering the government’s push for moving from BS IV to BS VI standards in conventional automobiles, heavy EV infrastructure investment cost—in terms of money, time, and energy; lack of seamless connectivity plans at the city and zonal level; and significant policy gaps in the area of EV and NMT/PT,” it says.

Speaking to The Indian Express, senior associate at CSTEP and the main author of the study, Deshpande said that the study was conducted in multiple cities in India, including Bengaluru.

“There is a lack of awareness among the public on how the total cost of ownership of EVs is less than the Internal Combustion Engines. In depth calculation is not something that everyone is aware about and hence looking at the high upfront cost, many consumers get pulled away from buying EVs,” she said.

She added that battery safety assurance, ease of charging (interoperability) are other two parameters that can prompt the shift to EVs.

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