Blog 6 – The story of Electric Vehicles comes a full circle over a century

In our continuing EU Excellence in India blog series, Mr. Awadhesh Jha, Vice President – Fortum Charge & Drive India, shares his insights on the importance of electric vehicles and renewable energy for a sustainable and cleaner future. 

Given the commitments made by nations to reducing their carbon footprint and ensuring sustainable mobility, the adoption of electric vehicles has become more important than ever before. In India, an additional consideration is the contribution of traditional automotive vehicles to the ever-rising levels of air pollution in many urban areas. However, challenges in the wider adoption of electric vehicles in India still remain. 

In this blogpost, Mr. Awadhesh Jha outlines the steps being taken by Fortum Charge & Drive India in bridging this gap through the introduction of quick DC charging infrastructure across India. As one of the global leaders in EV charging solutions, learn how Fortum Charge & Drive India is pioneering the way for greater adoption of electric vehicles in India.


The story of Electric Vehicles comes a full circle over a century 

Gaining newfound relevance, EVs are overcoming old drawbacks and addressing present-day challenges 

If we trace back the history of electric cars, we will find that their importance has waxed and waned in phases. Now, however, their place in the future scheme of things seems to be beyond debate. Introduced more than a hundred years ago, electric cars are relevant today for even more reasons than when they started off.

Some of the first practical electric cars appeared in the second half of the 19th century. The acceptance of electric battery-powered cars was initially hampered by lack of power infrastructure but, decades later, once that problem was overcome, electric mobility witnessed a surge in popularity. Electric cars offered many advantages over their internal-combustion-engine counterparts. They did not have the vibration, smell, and noise associated with gasoline cars. Neither did they need manual effort to start, nor did they require gear changes, once in motion.

After their initial success, however, electric cars began to lose their position in the automobile market. Improvements in road infrastructure necessitated vehicles with a greater range, and the discoveries of large petroleum reserves around the world made gas-powered cars cheaper to operate over long distances.

After a brief period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which witnessed soaring oil prices and gasoline shortages, interest in electric cars again petered out. Towards the end of the century, however, countries around the world started introducing regulations for environmental pollution. These developments revived the interest in electric vehicles (EVs) – an interest which has only grown stronger in the years since. The launch of the Toyota Prius and the Tesla in the 2000s spurred many of the world’s leading automakers to accelerate work on their own electric cars. Today, consumers have more choice than ever when it comes to buying one.

The adoption of electric cars, especially in a country like India, depends on the provision of a nationwide charging infrastructure and the affordability of the car. Battery costs have been reducing in recent years, making electric cars steadily more affordable. Meanwhile, companies like us are working towards addressing the need for EV charging solutions.




Our efforts to strengthen the EV charging infrastructure in India

Fortum Charge & Drive has a network of more than 6,000 smart-charging points in Nordic countries, of which more than 30 percent are DC quick chargers, besides providing access to more than 200,000 charging points through our in-house aggregator model under brand “Plugsurfing”.

Since piloting in India in October 2017, Fortum Charge & Drive is expanding the DC fast-charging network in the country. The company is presently operating in seven major Indian cities, with 73 fast-charging points at 40 locations, and is growing.

Fortum Charging network includes both 15/20 KW DC001 chargers as well as 50KW chargers catering both to low voltage EV like Mahindra e-verito/Tata Tigor and Hyundai Kona, MG ZS, Tata Nexon etc. We also offer a cloud solution to EV charging-service providers and infrastructure investors.

The SaaS architecture enables flexible, pay-as-you-grow models, and white/grey label alternatives. This service is configured to suit a wide array of custom requirements and is hardware-agnostic.



The advantages of EVs beyond mobility:

Electric cars matter more than ever before because almost all countries now have commitments towards reducing their environmental footprints and emissions. This is highly significant in a country like India, which has some of the world’s most polluted cities in terms of air quality.

Moreover, with the Government strongly pushing for the growth of solar energy, electric cars can serve yet another important function – of balancing the power grid by drawing power from the grid during peak generation hours, storing it in their battery when not running, and transferring it back to the grid when needed.

As the grid becomes greener, and battery technology advances, electric cars will help in driving India towards a sustainable future for both mobility and power.

What ‘EU Excellence in India’ means to us:

Fortum has a vision of a cleaner world, and it is our mission to engage our customers and the society in driving the change in this direction. We accelerate this change by reshaping the energy system, improving resource efficiency, and providing smart solutions. In doing this, we deliver excellent shareholder value.

In India, we operate businesses that are contributing to a cleaner world – whether it is a solar project which reduces CO2 emission; an EV charging service that catalyses sustainable transportation; an emission control service for existing thermal power plants; or the conversion of bioresources to useful products.

The ‘EU Excellence in India’ programme is a platform to share our learnings with a larger group of stakeholders and to exchange ideas on collaborations to take these initiatives further and wider.

About Fortum: 

Fortum is a European energy company with activities in more than 40 countries. We provide our customers with electricity, gas, heating, and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource efficiency. 

Fortum in India is focused on 4 verticals (Solar, EV Charging infrastructure, Bio2X, and NOx reduction solutions for thermal power plants). 

Starting its activity in India in 2012 with an acquisition of an operating 5 MW solar plant in Rajasthan, the company has created a portfolio of 685 MW (435 operating and 250 under development) solar assets in India. 

The company has also formed a Joint Venture with Numaligarh Refinery Limited along with Chempolis for setting up a bamboo-based Bio-Refinery Plant.

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