Arguably, the most anticipated car of the decade – the Tata Nano – has come and faced its share of controversies as well. It has been called an environmental calamity and has been touted as a major future problem, bringing more and more traffic and air pollution in India. Unveiled by Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, it was compared to the first aircraft of the Wright Brothers, and the curtains were raised with the words “A promise, is a promise” referring to its selling price of Rs 1,00,000 less than half the cost of Maruti Suzuki, India’s auto leader’s cheapest car the Maruti 800.
That being said and the hype having faded, it was said to be an environmental disaster by the environmentalists of the western world. This is India’s entry into the transport structure similar to that of the United States of America. It is a model wherein most cars operate with single occupancy. They say it will increase pollution and increase the rate at which the most prized natural resource is being depleted. It was also accused to alter all the projections made for the ozone depletion problem.
The Tata Nano has the best environmental rating than most of its peers. It boasts of state-of –the-art catalytic converter that reduces most pollutants by 80%. It is a leader in terms of mileage, and fuel economy. But it is still being blamed; why?
Due to its price, the Tata Nano is said to be a replacement for motorcycles and scooters in India especially for those who have families and have to take safety risks when commuting on one two wheeled vehicle. Compared to two-wheelers, its fuel economy obviously is no match. But saying that a car is hazardous for the environment just because a lot of people can buy it isn’t the right track. If environmental hazards need to be solved, then variants for petrol and diesel need to be found. One cannot just expect people to not drive cars while they enjoy the luxury of their own car, just because they have an expensive car.
Compressed Natural Gas and Electricity driven engines have been invented and are even in widespread production, but still, the public isn’t too keen on them. This is primarily because of the fact that there are not enough infrastructures available to support these variants. There are large queues at the CNG filling stations, and no public battery charging points. Therefore, every person opts for an option where they wouldn’t be left stranded ever so often due to unavailability of a fuel variant.
I think that rather than pointing fingers and discouraging auto makers trying to bring comfort to the public, we should turn towards development of more practical fuel variants. Hydrogen and water based variants are being tested. If that is too far in the future for the environmentalists, then, they should ask the authorities to consider providing adequate infrastructure, equaling that of the petrol consuming cars, and encouraging automakers to bring more options for the public in these variants.
We are sensible people and if we have options to choose from which will be better for us and the future generations, we will choose these options. We will be a sustaining community.
All we ask for are cars that don’t resemble Delhi’s taxis.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbalaji/2187900425/]