The American billionaire Elon Musk handed over the first batch of 30 Tesla Model 3 electric cars to employee-customers on Friday. It is an event that could hold the key to the future of automobiles as electric engines could dominate the roads. There are half a million orders on the books for the mass-produced $35,000 (about Rs 22.5 lakh) cars and how Mr Musk delivers them may define where his company, already valued far higher than traditional rivals General Motors and Ford, goes from here. However, the launch is not about Mr Musk’s Tesla and its share price and finances as much as the revolutionary idea he is selling to the world.
If an electric car (with a range of 350 km before recharging which can be done at home) can indeed be the suburban run-around for people, a world overtaken by global warming and pollution issues will be grateful for lesser use of fossil fuels. Other car-makers are promising to bring out all-electric SUVs while the old Swedish firm of Volvo, now owned by the Chinese, is soon to assemble and produce cars in India. The firm has also promised to go all-electric from 2019. The Indian government has a policy outlook by which it envisages all cars would be e-vehicles as it wants to cut oil imports by 50 per cent by 2030. Ours would be a better planet if automobiles ditch the internal combustion engine. With global trends coming at a fast clip to India these days, the problem won’t be so much getting the technology but to convince the owners of smoke belching lorries, autorickshaws and two-wheelers to spare a thought for the air their children would be breathing.