Over two-thirds of Indian goods are transported on roads. About 11 million freight vehicles carry 2.1 trillion tonne-km of freight annually (Bernard Aritua et al., 2018). These vehicles are largely dependent on fossil-based fuels (90% is diesel) for their movement (NITI Aayog et al., 2021). The road freight sector consumes about 70.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) and emits 213 Mt of CO2 annually. Thus, it accounts for approximately 53% of the country’s transport fuel consumption and about 54% of CO2 emissions.
With improving standard of living, increasing consumerism, and growing e-commerce, the freight movement is expected to increase exponentially in the coming decades. Recognising the potential growth of freight vehicles, their demand for fuel, and the resultant impact on the environment and public health, decarbonisation of freight transport should be a priority. This is crucial to meet India’s target of reducing
CO2 emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030 in order to achieve net-zero carbon targets by 2070 (BBC News Services, 2021). While the most energy-efficient decarbonisation strategy is to shift the mode of freight transport from road to rail, this solution is not very feasible in India. This is mainly due to lack of wide-spread rail infrastructure and poor last-mile connectivity. This forces India to look at cleaner vehicle technologies (like battery and fuel cell electric vehicles (EVs)) for road movement of freight as a feasible decarbonisation strategy.
In this note, we aim to assess the potential benefits of electrifying freight vehicles in India.