Business And Markets

Electric Vehicles to Help Combat Air Pollution

Electric Vehicles to Help Combat Air PollutionElectric Vehicles to Help Combat Air Pollution

S ince Iran decided to stop relying on heavily-subsidized fossil fuels through the implementation of a targeted subsidy plan known as ‘subsidy reform plan’, it has concentrated efforts to put CNG cars and electric vehicles on its roads.

So far, the country’s transportation and fuel management employees have worked to replace gas and diesel vehicles with CNG vehicles to great success, especially in the public transportation sector.  

But such replacements seem to be inadequate as the air pollution is getting worse particularly in major cities,and the main culprint is low-standard gasoline as well as overproduction of cars by domestic manufacturers.

To tackle the issue, Tehran municipality has planned to bring some 400,000 electric motorcycles and 120,000 hybrid taxis to the streets of the capital. The plan can be obviously seen in the 12th International Exhibition of Transportation and Urban Services (TITUF 2014).

At this year’s TITUF, some 220 companies from Iran and foreign countries including South Korea, Italy, Japan, China, Germany, Sweden, and France showcased their latest products, services, strategies, and innovations in transportation and urban management spheres, Ali E’tedali, the exhibition executive manager told Financial Tribune.

At this year’s TITUF, which is being held on the 30,000-square-meter Tehran International Permanent Fairground in Tehran, everybody was talking about the electric vehicles (EVs). The booths displaying electric motorcycles and cars had the most visitors, who rushed asking about the prices and features of the EVs which are considered the best alternative tovehicles with internal combustion engines.

Demand for electric motorcycles is gradually increasing as the government aims to regulate and decrease motor vehicle pollution in Tehran and other metropolises like the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Tehran makes it into the 10 most air-polluted cities in the world and that is the obvious reason why the officials insist on their strategic plans aimed at reducing air pollution by banning all types of fuel-burning motorcycles from entering restricted areas of the capital while only electric motorcycles will be licensed to enter the areas, said Masoud Chehrerazi from Air Quality Control Company which is a subordinate of Tehran municipality.

Chehrerazi told Financial Tribune that based on the pilot studies conducted by the municipality, the launch of electric motorcycles in Tehran’s district 12 (Bazaar), which is the most crowded commercial area, would reduce air pollution and noise pollution by 30-40% and 50%, respectively.

Benchmarking the successful experiences by European and East Asian countries, the plan will provide 15,000 electric motorcycles in district 12. The municipality offers 80% of the vehicles’ price in the form of loans with no interest. Buyers will have to clear the debt in a three-year period.

The Air Quality Control Company is determined to generalize the plan to the other 21 districts of Tehran as well, hoping to get rid of all fuel-burning motorcycles across the country within the next five years with a budget of 400 trillion rials ($12.3 billion based on official exchange rate).

The bazaar area, within the next two months, will host free parking for the electric motorcycles, as well as free outlet stations to recharge the vehicles. The municipality has obliged the electric motorcycle manufacturers or importers to supply vehicles of at least 3,000 watts of power.

About 800,000 sets of gasoline-run motorcycles are sold each year in Iran, and 90% of them are Chinese-made vehicles that emit high concentrations of carbon dioxide with high concentration.

To make electric motorcycles popular could reduce this problem if an oil producing country like Iran could increase relatively small demands for electric motorcycles.

 Lifting Subsidies

Contrary to their fuel-burning counterparts, electric motorcycle do not discharge any exhaust gas. That is why the government has offered considerable incentives to the importers, producers, and the future owners of such environment-friendly vehicles. These incentives include the tax and tariff exemptions.

In Iran, the government decided to reduce gasoline subsidies in 2010. Gas prices in Iran have leapt up by to 75 %, after state subsidies were cut. Although fuel costs in Iran are still among the cheapest in the world.

Together with Tehran Municipality, there are a few other organizations and ministries that support the plan including the ministry of industry, mine, and trade, the Department of Environment, and the Iranian National Standards Organization.

If the plan for electric motorcycles is successfully implemented with positive results, the municipality will then start replacing old taxis with hybrid ones in Tehran.

The plan to introduce electric motorcycles and hybrid taxis, like any other plan implemented by Tehran Municipality, is based on scientific backgrounds and extensive research, Sara Talebzadeh told Financial Tribune.

Talebzadeh, who is an expert in Tehran Comprehensive Transportation and Traffic Studies Company (TCTTS), said such plans always undergo feasibility studies by consultation companies like TCTTS which is one of the leading consulting groups in Iran providing expertise in the area of urban transportation planning and engineering.

Popularizing the public transportation and convincing people to leave their pollutant cars cannot happen overnight, but careful studies are essential in order to discover the urban travel patterns.

The municipality updates its comprehensive urban studies every decade and this year, as many as one twentieth of Tehran population will be contacted and asked to explain their daily travel patterns, said Talebzadeh.

For a metropolis like Tehran, where at least 4,000 people die each year from diseases caused by air pollution, there are no other options but to put aside the vehicles with internal combustion engines and shift to the vehicles with zero emissions.