Our family friend in south east Asia who is now a proud owner of an electric BMW revealed how the bonnet is EMPTY in the luxury sedan. Not a single mechanical fitting or oil tanks or exhaust. The bonnet doubles up as boot and there is enormous space saved. No smoke, no pollution. No noise. Just a 20 minute charge every night when you plug the charger into the power socket in your carpark. There are enough charging stations around the country for you to go on long drives without a headache. The electrical vehicles are here to stay.
The first time I saw an electric car was in Italy where every single two seater miniscule car (if you can call it that) was electric and there were charging points in every street. I could see quite a few of these automobiles plugged in for recharging. Entire Europe already seemed to have gone green with no pollution. Only the aviation industry functioned on fossil fuel. India too has signed the Climate change agreement and will be opting for green energy entirely by 2030. It will be a great cost cutter to the third world nation whose sizeable chunk of export bill is for oil and gas. Power shifts can take place after the phased smooth sailing into green energy when oil will lose steam in the world market. Middle eastern countries are already factoring in the inevitability and working on that. Aviation industry and shipping will be the last to exit fossil fuels. LPG or natural gas will continue to be in demand for a century or two before technology takes over.
But I would like to underscore here a different dimension that emerges with the electric cars. Tesla is not just a trend. Tesla is pathbreaking. What does the electric car teach you with the empty bonnet without the coils of tubes running around, with no radiator. Can you imagine your SUV without its fuel tank. When the extra fittings go, you save a lot on space and costs. It means, technology gets that much outpaced at a very short interval. The days of the petrol cars are almost over and we are in the last leg of fossil fuel use for automobiles in the world. This spells chaos if not disaster for the traditional automobile industry that has to gear up for a tectonic shift in the technology and industry. I can foresee the mechanical automobile sheds throughout India downing their shutters already. The electric vehicles will render the automobile engineers redundant. Electrical engineers will have their momentary spot under the sun. Electrical engineering will make a comeback, but core engineering never goes out of season. A good percentage of mechanical engineers will be out of job as well. World will adapt because we have grown out of VCRs, CDs, floppy discs etc., right in our own time. Autocad sent home the draftsmen packing. There will be a major upheaval of not just the Indian economy but of the whole global economy as the world will gradually make a conscious choice and move to green energy.
For me, the takeaway from electric cars is that, nothing is indispensable and none is too great. It takes not much for someone or something to replace you in no time and you go down the lane of the oblivion. I have been living in and out of India for a quarter century now. I have met dozens of nationalities in my life, i have been with every single race, language and culture people that you can imagine. Success no more impresses me as one after another our friends drive down in their BMW or Audi like the three wheeled auto that is popular in our Chennai roads. Success is multi faceted acquired in multiple hierarchies in diverse fields of occupation from banking to engineering to art and literature. I may not have rubbed shoulders with successful people but I am in their shadows all the time as I see how men and women excel in their accomplishments, each of which is a laurel and story worth writing about. I am in admiration of fellow Indians who have left no stoned unturned to make not only a successful life for themselves, but to contribute towards goodwill for India at the same time. Nothing nowadays impacts me: success, money, brands, glamour or glitz. You name it, I have seen it all. I am never part of that. I am in the sidelines watching and clapping hands. I have seen some greatest works of art and quite a few pieces of marvelous engineering. I guess I have traveled a bit and been exposed to all extremes. Just this week I was in -19, 09 and 9 c in mere three days. This is my life. There are the five star health centers and seven star hotels. There are these nubile nymphs and the tall brooding handsome men in all their sophistication who go about in chauffered limos. There are cruises that can take you to the high seas and there are shows and events where socializing and partying wild are the order of the day. But I know the superficiality of all that around me and where I must focus. What I do look for is that elusive strength of character that marks the real men and sets them apart. I am touched by humility in men in the face of huge success, I am drawn by elegancy and grace of someone’s persona. The aura of a good and successful man has the magnetic appeal that you know a decent man when you see one. Invariably these men know their vulnerability in the order of worldly things. They are aware that they are but a tiny speck, a spot in the galaxy of universes and nothing at all matters. Understatement always scores a quiet point.
The displacement of the fossil fuel and the ushering in of the green era is a reminder to humanity how change is inevitable and we are all helpless in the face of changing tides. Change brings with it growth as we outgrow some phases. I keep wondering whether India can live up to her word. But I guess we can, because the world wrote off India during the pandemic. We ended up mass producing the corona vaccine and supplying the poorer nations the life saving shots for free. India is thus an enigma that can surprise the onlookers. Hybrids are already in the Indian streets and I have been in hybrids in the US. I am looking forward to owning electric car in Chennai someday soon.