Gurgaon, the sprawling suburbs of New Delhi, is a sprawling suburb of big cities, where asphalt and air pollution are a constant hazard. So, in 2016, a group of Gurgaon residents decided to put their newly funded recharging stations to the test. They selected 11 charge points, connected them to electric vehicles, and then gave them each a free 45-minute ride to prove that they were actually effective.
I visited the stations, and spoke with some of the people who had used them. It was a fascinating, troubling, inspiring, and very sobering experience.
Why Do They Believe Themselves Better Off?
– New-Lead executive secretary, Anil Kumar Gupta, who is also chairman of Uber in India, says he stays awake at night worrying about air pollution. If he had a source to cut carbon, he says, “I would give him coal.”
– Anjoliella Andreda, 19, a teenager who was forced by her family to quit high school in Rajasthan two years ago because of persistent allergies, says she expects to get hooked on charging stations because, at present, her only option is her uncle’s car, which she runs on electricity from the generator. “I’m hooked on electricity already,” she says. “But if I use electricity and bring it to a charging station, I would learn a lot. I would feel satisfied, I would feel happy. It’s not just for the environment. It’s also helping me grow a more responsible attitude to life.”
– Janood Lottijo, a former hotel manager who runs a small cooperative grocery store in Gurgaon and a cash-and-carry grocery store in Singapore, says he got into Gurgaon’s electric vehicle movement because he feels bad about the pollution in the city. He, his wife, and their four children now alternate 50 hours a week between a Honda City and the Nissan Leaf, allowing the family to power up their Ford Escape every other weekend. (He says he earns $170 a month, but says his wife is pulling in $750, and their daughter $700 per month.) “It’s the environmental responsibility, and we’re making money,” he says.
– Lokesh Singh, who manages four schools in the area, sees electric vehicles replacing diesel cars for both kids and teachers. With all the data collected by the charging stations, “our teachers and kids can [better] evaluate the cars by how far away it is, how fast it goes. Sometimes the distances get longer.”