Electric Tractors in IndiaIn April of this year, India officially overtook China as the most populous country in the world when its population reached a whopping 1.426 billion people. Almost 75% of that population depends on the agriculture sector as a means of income, although said sector only makes up 15% of India’s economy, due to the growth of other industries. Though they make up a majority of the country, a significant portion of Indian farmers are poor, with 20% living under the poverty line in 2019. As a result of the considerable number of agricultural workers living within its borders, India is home to the largest tractor market in the world.

Fossil fuels power most of the machinery that the domestic tractor industry has manufactured, and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates that diesel-powered tractors in India consume almost 8% of all the country’s fuel per year, close to the amount of all of its buses. In recent years, however, India’s tractor industry has imported and produced electric tractors, with Sonalika manufacturing the country’s first electric tractor in 2020. Introducing electric tractors in India on a widespread scale would offer several benefits to some of the country’s most impoverished residents.

Health Benefits Over Diesel

The primary benefit that electric tractors offer Indian farmers over diesel-powered tractors is their ability to help mitigate the issue of air pollution. Though the focus is often on cities when talking of poor air quality in India, air pollution in many rural areas of India is practically as high as levels in urban regions. The 2022 State of Global Air Report revealed that 1.6 million people in India died due to air pollution in 2019. What’s more, research shows that premature death due to air pollution alone is three times as common in rural areas compared to urban areas. 

Expanding the use of electric tractors in India would help address this disparity as they are emission-free. Non-electric tractors, on the other hand, contribute to air pollution, and the ICCT approximates that diesel-powered tractors in India released “about 25 kilotonnes of particulate matter and almost 300 kilotonnes of nitrogen oxides as of 2020”. Electric tractors would lower the amount of pollution that rural Indians endure, making the air cleaner, safer and preventing deaths.

Another health benefit of electric tractors is that they are significantly quieter than non-electric tractors. Many tractors that run on fossil fuels have loud engines that can reach 100 decibels, a level that is capable of causing hearing damage after 15 minutes of exposure. Electric tractors, on the other hand, do not depend on an engine for power and therefore can operate at volumes that are much safer for farmers’ ears. Electric tractors would protect Indian farmers’ hearing and prevent them from needing hearing aids in the future or from being unable to afford any medical devices and instead being forced to take on the risks of working with hearing loss. 

Financial Considerations

Although it’s true that the current price of electric tractors in India can often be twice that of diesel-powered machinery, which can be a barrier to the adoption of electric farm equipment, the ICCT calculates that the 10-year cost of owning and using an electric tractor is almost the same price as a traditional tractor. The reason for this is that electric tractors are 90% efficient in converting thermal energy to mechanical energy, whereas diesel-powered tractors are less than 30% efficient in completing the same task. Farmers who own electric tractors, then, can get more bang for their buck when it comes to powering and using their machinery, and end up spending less on energy in the long run.

Electric tractors also require less maintenance because they do not rely on an engine to run, meaning fewer parts could become damaged and require repair or replacement. This feature would allow farmers to save money and give them peace of mind regarding the durability of their electric equipment. 

Regarding the financial downsides of non-electric tractors, diesel fuel is subject to frequent price fluctuations and is affected by geopolitical events like the ongoing Ukraine war. Electric tractors do not suffer from this risk of volatility in terms of the price of charging up machinery, and therefore provide farmers with a greater amount of financial security. 

Looking Ahead

While there are currently no up-front incentives offered to buyers of electric tractors in India, the good news is that India’s government currently has several policies in place for electric on-road vehicles that it could easily extend to electric tractors. One of these policies is the FAME II scheme that, if applied to all zero-emission equipment in India, would provide subsidies that would lower the price of electric tractors to near, or even below, that of diesel machinery. The Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), India’s association of electric vehicle manufacturers, has already called on the Indian government to extend subsidies to electric off-road equipment in their Union Budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

While India’s national and individual state governments have implemented measures to fight air pollution, talks of lowering emissions have often overlooked rural areas. As electric tractors in India become adopted more and more, the nation’s farmers and other rural residents will finally be able to rest — and breathe — easy knowing they are reaping most of the benefits.

– Sofia Oliver
Photo: Unsplash

Tesla Can Eliminate Poverty in IndiaIn 2019, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, publicly voiced his interest in establishing Tesla in the Indian automobile market. Before a deal was set in stone, Tesla faced a major obstacle. Toward the end of 2021, Tesla lobbied the Indian government to reduce import taxes to under 40% on electric vehicles (EVs). The Indian government declined the condition, suggesting that Tesla assemble the cars in local manufacturing plants. In 2023, however, the Indian government presented Tesla executives with an offer to construct a Giga factory in India. If Tesla accepts, which seems to be the case as the company recently finalized locations in India, the factory will become a crucial component in India’s efforts to combat poverty. Poverty has been a major focus of India’s political agenda for the past few decades. Now that Tesla is paving a path into the Indian market, India has yet another avenue to decrease poverty. With the Indian government, Tesla can eliminate poverty in India in three ways.

3 Ways Tesla Can Eliminate Poverty in India

  1. Increases Automobile Industry Output and National GDP Value: In 2022, India ranked fourth in global car sales and grew an impressive 23% in the past year, the third-largest automobile industry growth rate in the world. As Tesla aims to enter India, it has the potential to significantly increase the value of the Indian automobile industry. The Indian automobile industry is currently valued at $32.7 billion. With business from companies such as Tesla, India’s automobile industry is projected to be valued at $54.84 billion by 2027. This is because Tesla is the 11th largest car manufacturer in the world. This also means India will soon eclipse Japan as the third-largest automobile market worldwide. The Indian EV market alone is projected to be valued at $7.09 billion by 2025. This means India will become the third-largest EV market by 2025. Tesla’s potential impact on the Indian Automobile Industry also correlates to an increase in India’s GDP. This is because Tesla plans on using India as a central hub for exports across Asia. Between 2020 and 2022, India’s GDP increased from $2.67 trillion to $3.39 trillion. As India begins to export Teslas, the increase in export revenue will continue to increase the national GDP. The higher the national GDP, the lower the poverty rates. Given these trends, Tesla can eliminate poverty in India through an improved automobile industry and a higher national GDP.
  2. More Jobs: Employment is the most effective method to help alleviate poverty. While India’s overall unemployment rate in 2022 was 7.3%, this statistic is slightly misleading. Specifically, 23.2% of the youth in India were unemployed as of 2022. This is alarming as addressing poverty in India could become very challenging if the next generation faces limited job opportunities. Fortunately, Tesla can eliminate poverty in India through the creation of new jobs. As of 2021, the Indian Automotive Industry provided jobs for more than 37 million people. Once Tesla, among other car manufacturers, enters India, the automotive industry is estimated to provide jobs for more than 65 million people by 2026. One of the reasons Tesla can create a vast amount of jobs in India is that it does not require skilled labor. Jobs such as assembly line workers do not require expertise or intensive training. This will allow people who lack education or need temporary income to have the possibility to obtain a job. As a result, more people in India will gain employment, thus preventing them from falling into poverty.
  3. Promotes India’s Initiative to Address Carbon Emissions: In the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference, India set several commitments for the country’s agenda to reduce carbon emissions. One of India’s commitments was to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. To meet this goal, India has heavily pushed for renewable energy. As of 2022, India ranked fourth in renewable energy installation. With Tesla on the horizon, India has yet another approach to further its goals. Along with the recent surge in India’s EV market, Tesla has the potential to become a prominent car brand in India. This is beneficial for India as cars are one of the largest sources of carbon emissions around the world. EVs, such as Tesla, can help alleviate carbon emissions. In turn, India’s goal to eliminate carbon emissions can also help eradicate poverty. This is because changing weather patterns induces poverty as it burdens people with conflict, hunger and inhospitable living conditions and can sabotage their source of income. Therefore, combating environmental challenges can assist the poor and present them with a path to escape poverty. As such, the environmental benefits of Tesla can eliminate poverty in India. 

Tesla’s Future in India

Although the future of Tesla in India is not fully determined, its potential benefits act as another tool for India’s efforts to eradicate poverty. These efforts have been highly successful; from 2011 to 2019, the population of Indians living below the poverty line decreased by 144.89 million people. As India emerges as a global leader in the fight against poverty, the country still has much work to do. Companies that invest in India, however, can help the country complete its efforts. In this way, Tesla can be a major boon for India and further its efforts to eliminate poverty.

– Manav Yarlagadda
Photo: Unsplash