While countries like Germany are already well on the path to tap renewable energy sources to fuel their autos, they continue to push diesel-powered guzzlers in India. However, a few Indian manufacturers are honing their electric vehicles for the domestic and global markets
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh's comment on large diesel-powered SUVs, mostly of German make, is not new. He has said the same thing in the past too, including at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) held in Delhi, much earlier this year in August 2010-but it was not picked up by most of the media as well as not reported because it was right at the beginning of the event-early in the day, so to say, well before lunch, which also explains why it slipped through without much reportage. It was certainly not part of SIAM's report on the seminar, either.
That huge SUVs consume a disproportionate amount of energy, in manufacture as well as while being operated, is not debated or denied. After all, to take something weighing around 2-3 tonnes, or even more, to move one or two people weighing at best a couple of hundred kilos, is not the best thing for our planet. Pollution, emission, wastage-at every point in its lifecycle, from manufacture to utilisation to scrapping. The sooner this segment of people, who must drive around in such huge trucks, start paying their share-the better. An annual cess on the presumptive usage of one of these juggernauts is one good idea that the environment minister can consider implementing right away.
Why the German ambassador chose to back the huge diesel SUVs and take deep umbrage on behalf of German automobile manufacturers is also not clear-after all, one presumes he represents the German nation and its people, and not just the automobile manufacturers for whom he has been throwing gala launch parties lately, including reportedly gracing dealership inaugurations, something like a used-car salesman would do in view of falling sales for huge diesel SUVs worldwide.
Germany as a nation and a society itself is certainly committed to rapidly moving out of the petroleum trap and towards renewable energy. In addition, almost a quarter of Germans are backing the various Green parties in Germany, and it would be certainly fair of the German ambassador to try and commiserate with them, also.
(More here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,717929,00.html).
But then, that's the German ambassador's business, pun intended. Not ours.
Ours is about India, and issues therein, like the heart-warming announcement by Mahindra yesterday in Delhi. That, along with its full range of diesel cars, small trucks, large trucks, SUVs et al, they would also sell the electric battery car now re-christened 'Mahindra Reva' from the same dealers' showrooms. Probably unmatched elsewhere in the world, a simple step like this takes a lot of strength, and also sends out a very clear message to everybody. For example-put your money where your mouth is, and we give you the choice-electric or diesel.
But first-more on the Reva. This small little two-seater electric vehicle has now been around for over a decade, and in addition, has constantly been improving too. From a simple ABS body stuck on to a ladder chassis running on lead acid batteries, it has now evolved, while retaining the same body shape, an internal space frame as well as for export models, a wide range of battery options. (In India, largely for reasons of import duties and taxes on batteries, they continue to use lead acid batteries.) A range of 80km on one charge is par for the course, with the air-conditioner operational, it drops to about 60km.
But more importantly, over the past few years, the control systems have evolved to provide full regeneration of power-not just while braking, but also while decelerating. This is important, because a lot of energy otherwise lost while slowing down is now sent right back into the batteries. The new control systems, in fact, give the Reva an option of using fewer batteries, thus reducing weight as well as improving range.
Do check out a Reva. Currently available with varying levels of subsidies, including as good as 33% on base price in Delhi, and with some very interesting lease-in/rental schemes too. It's also coming out soon with a bigger four-door, proper four-seater version. But if it is a two-seater runabout you are looking for, within city or town, then this should do it for you. And reasonably ideal as well as easy to maintain and run for the family back home -plug and play, with just a couple of fuses here and there to worry about. There's a 220v 15amp socket needed about 20-30 metres from wherever you park.
There is also a buy-back scheme, where you put in a lakh, then you pay a monthly "rental", and after 3 years, return the car and get your lakh back. They estimate that with normal usage, the battery life would also be around 3 years, subject to local weather conditions as well as usage. Some sort of guarantee on battery life would be indeed welcome here.
Maybe the German ambassador could take a look at one of them, too?
New Delhi: Realty firm Tulip Infratech today said it will invest Rs1,600 crore over the next four years to develop a housing project in Gurgaon, reports PTI.
The company would build 2,000 apartments in the housing project 'Tulip Violet' spread over 40 acres.
"We have launched a new project in Gurgaon where we will come up with 2,000 flats in mid-income categories. The project cost would be about Rs1,600 crore," Tulip Infratech managing director Parveen Jain said.
Mr Jain said the project cost would be funded through debt, internal accruals and advances from customers.
Construction would start in January next year and the entire project is expected to be completed in the next four years, he said, adding that the price of flats started from Rs55 lakh onwards.
Mr Jain said this was the company's seventh project in Gurgaon.
Besides Gurgaon, the company is also developing a housing project, comprising of 635 units in Sonepat, Haryana.
Alternately conservative and liberal policies and regulations by the Chinese authorities have resulted in the real estate bubble getting bigger and increasing inflation
Back in June I wrote a column about the Chinese real estate bubble. Recently we know that the Chinese authorities have been tightening, but often we do not know how much and in what ways. Apparently, neither do the Chinese authorities. On November 15, the state media newspaper the China Daily announced that China's four biggest state banks had used up their full-year credit quotas for property developers and would stop extending new loans to them for the rest of the year.
The paper cited a source from the ministry of housing and urban-rural development and quoted several unnamed executives from the banks. For example, one anonymous credit department executive at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) was quoted as saying, "It is impossible to extend fresh loans to developers."
What is interesting is that the same newspaper printed a story 10 hours later denying the report. China Daily wrote: "China's top four banks rejected reports that they would stop lending to real estate developers for the remainder of the year." So we have a state newspaper quoting a ministry that was quoting an executive from a state-owned bank, which statement was later denied by the same state newspaper quoting information from the same state-owned banks. Is this sloppy journalism or an intentional 'mistake'? My bet is the latter.
The incident says volumes about the real estate boom in China, inflation in China, the government's attempts to control the economy and problems associated with distortions of information.
What is clear is that the Chinese are worried about the rise of inflation. The People's Bank of China (PBoC) said that the reason it raised interest rates was to manage "inflation expectations and consolidating the results of real-estate adjustment policies." And it went on to blame a part of the problem on "loose monetary policies in major economies", meaning the United States.
One of the problems with the Chinese economy is that it is still very much dominated by central authorities in Beijing. These authorities have ironically put their faith in the one thing that the government often disregards: the law. The Chinese government likes to try to control its economy, and specifically the real estate market, with regulations. They should know better.
They have been through this before. Starting in late 2007, the Chinese started to put on the brakes for their property markets. Rather than just raise interest rates, they used regulatory methods, including things like credit ceilings, higher down payments, restrictions on third homes and increasing bank's reserve requirements.
The problem with these restrictions is that they don't really work. During the last bubble, banks were supposed to demand a 40% down payment from families seeking second mortgages, but many turned a blind eye if the loan applicant did not hold another property, even if other family members did. They were also supposed to give loans only if the borrower had a certain size apartment, but they never checked.
When the first regulations don't work, the government pushes the brakes a little harder. They use stronger and stronger restrictions and eventually overshoot. By May 2008 prices had fallen by 30%. And the sales volume in Shanghai was 50% lower than a year earlier.
The Chinese reacted to the crash like all other governments have. They started stimulating their economy with a vengeance. In 2009, the government ordered the state-owned banks to start lending, and lend they did. They lent a record 9.6 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) in 2009. If the US stimulus had been on a similar size relative to GDP, it would have been $6 trillion.
This year they reigned in the loans a bit, but not much. Their loan target is 7.5 trillion yuan, but that has almost certainly been exceeded. In September alone, China's total lending-including loans from smaller commercial banks-reached 500 billion yuan, far exceeding a previous estimate of 280 billion yuan. In contrast, in 2008 only 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) was extended in new loans.
It is not surprising that this wall of money created a real estate bubble. The only real question is why it didn't create more inflation. The answer is that it probably has. The reported inflation is 4.4%, but it could be much more. Food prices are up an annualized 10%, 18 staple vegetables are up 62.4%, ginger is up 89.5% and garlic is up 95.8%. Price controls are being considered.
So, now the cycle is repeating itself. This year the government started tightening in February. Like price controls on food, none of these regulations will work. To try to rein this deluge will no doubt take stronger and stronger measures. The Chinese government is desperately trying to avoid what occurred in 2008, which is why the disparity of information is hardly surprising. But since it is using the same tools, undoubtedly it will have the same result. Unfortunately this time, the effects will reach far beyond China.