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A Struggling Industry

The economy, on the whole, is struggling and that, in turn, is having an adverse effect on the automobile industry which is fighting hard to recover from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, factors such as shortage of semiconductors and cost of fuel are still making life difficult for the industry.

The price of fuel has consistently been on a northward trend with diesel at over Rs 104 per litre and petrol nudging Rs 115. Such steep pricing was unheard of in the past. I remember when crude oil was at over US$ 120 per barrel, we were paying Rs 85 per litre. Now, when the price of crude is US$ 83 a barrel, we are paying Rs 115 per litre. It is noteworthy in this context that Bhutan imports all its fuel from India and the price of petrol in that country is Rs 83 per litre, if I am not mistaken. We are paying the highest amount of taxes on fuel in the world.

As has been discussed in these columns earlier, the blending of ethanol with petrol has its pros and cons, the chief among them being that you need a lot of water to grow sugarcane and that is not environmentally friendly. Ethanol is corrosive in nature, which is not good for engines that are not compatible with the fuel. Ethanol also attacks parts such as fuel lines and all rubber parts in the fuel system.

Last month Audi sent us the e-tron for a week and it was a great experience. I enjoyed driving the car, especially because I did not have to fill petrol at the exorbitant price mentioned above. Nevertheless, charging the car was an issue. Electric vehicles (EV) are good, but if you have read the news lately, then you would be aware that there was a shortage of coal required in power generation. Besides, if we are burning coal to generate electricity, how can we call EV clean? The question remains.



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