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The Future of Electric Vehicles in Bangladesh:Problems and Prospects

The global automobile industry has witnessed a sweeping transition over the last decade with the emergence of electric vehicles as a mode of transportation. Less resource consumption, better mileage, and a lower carbon footprint undoubtedly make EVs a lucrative choice for personal and commercial usage. According to a recent analysis by the Boston Consulting Group, the EV market is assumed to grow by a staggering 51% in the United States by the year 2030. Now we are noticing the spillover effect of Western adoption of EVs in the rest of the world. However, in a developing country like Bangladesh, a somewhat unprepared infrastructure looms large over the possibilities of successful integration of EVs on a larger scale. Considering the endless possibilities of EVs, the fundamental question is whether Bangladesh is ready to adopt electric vehicles.

Bangladesh is still relatively new to the bloom of electronic cars and motorbikes, which are quickly engulfing the day-to-day function of transportation for a large part of the world. The official documentation of EVs by the Bangladesh Road and Transportation Authority (BRTA) began this year after Audi launched its e-Tron SUVs for the Bangladeshi market. Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that the rapid acceleration of automobile technology has raised public sensation. EVs can easily find a foothold in the Bangladeshi market for two reasons. Firstly, it can be integrated into food and other door-to-door delivery services, like Foodpanda, Daraz, and Chaldal. Secondly, EVs can attract individuals who use motorbikes as their daily commute to make the switch, especially in a congested city like Dhaka. In a price-sensitive market like Bangladesh, that is equivalent to hitting the bullseye regarding customer acquisition. Then, what is holding back an EV bloom in Bangladesh so far?

The immediate answer to that question lies in the inadequate infrastructural capability of the country. A full-fledged shift towards EVs requires the massive installation of power stations throughout the country to charge, pack, and unpack batteries. For the few electronic cars in the country, only 14 such power hubs are available, and the charging is done chiefly through residential facilities. Once that is set up, the government has to look into its electricity generation capability, as adopting EVs would only result in a rise in electricity consumption. Considering these challenges, what does the future hold for the EV space in Bangladesh?

This brings us to the last part of this article – looking at the way forward. The government of Bangladesh has identified the possibilities EVs may unlock for the country. The Automobile Industry Development Policy looks to incentivise the EV bloom through tax holidays, financial benefits, and low-interest loan services. The plan to integrate EVs into public transportation is also evident with the announcement from BRTA of deploying 50 electronic buses to operate on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. Even though there are not many players in the EV space right now, the market will soon be filled by several large corporations, with entities like Nitol Motors and Bangladesh Auto Industries Limited (BAIL) announcing their emergence. The made-in-Bangladesh electric car “Palki,” currently being pre-ordered, is another exciting addition to the EV upsurge in the country. In addition, businesses are interested in integrating sustainable transport solutions into their operations. According to a recent survey conducted by IDCOL Bangladesh, 56% of the responding SMEs in Bangladesh intend to incorporate EVs into their businesses. The government can take inspiration from India’s success story and make this a priority sector to incentivise banks and enterprises to invest more. As for the power stations, adding them to the existing gasoline and CNG filling stations is one possibility that the government is seriously looking into. Interestingly enough, Bangladeshis have become familiar with a more unregulated version of EVs in the past through the battery-powered three-wheelers known as “Easy Bikes,” which are prevalent in small cities and villages. When the easy bikes were deployed in the country for the first time, the entire charging facility around them was built quickly. The only question is, would Bangladesh replicate this in a more niche and sophisticated category?

One of the most significant leaps humans made toward civilization was consummated through the invention of wheels. It gave human beings the power to move efficiently and frequently. Then came the eras of motorcars, airplanes, fast cars, and supercars. The latest feather in that crown of mobility is electronic vehicles. For a rapidly growing country like Bangladesh, EVs have the potential to open the door to innumerable opportunities. It is undoubtedly a long way for Bangladesh to make the magic of EV an everyday part of its fellow citizens’ lives, but steps are being taken in the right direction. Overall, it is an exciting phase to witness in the EV space in Bangladesh.

Author- Sadman Bin Ahsan

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