Sri Lanka’s own ‘hot rod’ innovation | Daily News


 

Sri Lanka’s own ‘hot rod’ innovation

A high-powered, electric ‘Supercar’ has just been rolled out on to the world stage by an innovative Sri Lankan company. The Vega EVX high-end luxury sports car was unveiled earlier this week at the International Motor Show 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The all-electric vehicle is notable as being among the world’s first electricity powered sports cars with high performance luxury features aimed at the global affluent market sector. Manufacturer Vega Innovations, a subsidiary of the emergent Sri Lankan-led multinational CodeGen International, has successfully pooled some top-level Sri Lankan technical expertise in designing and building this very first all-electric luxury car of South Asia.

Even with one of the world’s largest automobile industries in India, next door, it was little Sri Lanka’s expertise and entrepreneurship that saw the launch of the Vega EVX at the prestigious global auto industry event in Geneva. Only recently, Indian automobile industrialists were admitting at an Indian motor show that market dynamics were yet inhibiting them from moving rapidly into the production of full-electric vehicles. Considering that existing carmakers such as Porsche, VW, Mercedes and BMW/MINI are just moving into electric vehicles, this is indeed a great achievement for a Sri Lankan company.

Even as we wish our new car producer all success on the world market, we must look at the situation within the country for the expansion and use of electricity-based energy in all aspects of economic and social life. After all, it is all very well to produce purely electricity-powered ‘hot rods’, but do we have the electricity supply to drive them? And when will we have the power supply or charging point networks islandwide to keep them going to their destinations?

The focus on the development of purely electricity-dependent vehicles is essential. Even more important, however, is the need for the rapid strengthening of our national electricity supply grid and the shift away from thermal power generation toward a complete reliance on hydroelectric and, the emerging newer forms of electric power generation such as wind and solar.

The Vega EVX has a 804 horsepower motor that can deliver an impressive acceleration of 0-100 Kmph in just 3.1 seconds – enough to inspire any speed junkie with the dollars to spend. Such dollars, of course, are vital forex income for developing Sri Lanka with its own, attendant, consumer appetite. Of course, local sportscar enthusiasts are yet awaiting the roads suitable for such (safe, responsible) joy riding.

Today, the country’s energy supply is not enough to power the services and industry so vital for our economic survival and success. As the country marches forward to higher levels of middle-income lifestyle, domestic and personal electricity consumption inevitably rises. However, that expansion of GDP per capita is hinged on the prerequisite of the expansion of the economy itself.

And this is a challenge that successive governments have grappled with only to be tied down by delays due to numerous factors ranging from social sensitivities, to environmental concerns, to lack of capital. Some would also point out the additional delay factor of corruption: either from the lack of bribes to politicians or from complications caused by the extraneous, irregular, project manipulations by already bribed politicians.

Thus, the country has moved from an era in the 1970s when the Accelerated Mahaweli Programme envisaged an actual export of excess electricity to South India to the current era of economic development that has overtaken local hydro-electric energy production. Thus, today, our direct hydro-electric energy production is less than a third of the national energy supply. A good two-thirds of energy today originates from expensive, polluting, carbon fuel-based thermal production.

Most significantly, the existing energy production is not enough to meet current energy demand from all sectors – from domestic, to services, to manufacturing. And even the energy available is not adequately transmitted countrywide because of the under-developed electricity transmission system. That is, the load capacity of the power supply lines themselves is inadequate to ensure that all parts of the island receive a fully uninterrupted power supply.

The most daunting challenge, however, is not the actual energy production system or the quality of the supply networks. Newly emerging is the Climate Crisis. The severe swings in weather that have arisen in recent years have resulted in a seemingly vicious cycle of long droughts and fierce rainstorms. The growth of hydro-electric power was based on the abundant supply of water and rain that this island has enjoyed for millennia – as seen by the millennia-old water supply and irrigation systems that adorn the Raja Rata. But thanks to Humanity’s depredations mainly in the modern age, all that has changed.

Thus, along with a new vigour in developing renewable energy production – water, wind and solar – we also need to shift to a new, far less extravagant, lifestyle and economic system that will preserve our habitat so that we can genuinely make use of such innovations as the Vega EVX.


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