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It pays to go electric: Maharashtra’s new e-vehicle policy to bring in fresh incentives

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In a move that could spark a mobility revolution, Maharashtra is all set to bring at least 1,46,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2025.

The new policy has proposed a range of offers for those purchasing EVs. These include subsidized vehicle costs, discounts for early adopters, exemption from road tax and registration fees, and providing rebates on property tax to residential establishments that invest in charging stations, among others.

The cost of EVs in the state is set to become cheaper as buyers will be able to avail incentives under the state policy as well as the Centre’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EV (FAME) II scheme, officials familiar with the development said.

The policy aims to incentivize the purchase of 100,000 electric two-wheelers, 15,000 e-autos, 10,000 cars, 20,000 goods carriers (both three and four-wheeler) and 1,000 e-buses. For each of these vehicle segments, incentives are likely to be funded from the green tax levied on polluting vehicles, said officials from the transport department.

There will also be an early bird discount of ₹2,500/kWh of the vehicle battery capacity in addition to incentives for EV purchased before December 31, 2021.

The cost of a single EV sold with an assured buyback guarantee stands to come down by 6% of the retail price, capped at ₹10,000, while the price of those sold with extended battery warranties of at least five years stands to reduce by 4% up to ₹6,000.

Other offers are also proposed to attract the customers towards EVs like, exemption of road tax and registration charges till the year 2025 and scrappage incentives starting at ₹7,000 for e-two wheelers up to ₹25,000 for e-four wheelers.

The policy has a progressive vision, and aims to substitute all government vehicles in major cities with EVs, starting from April 2022. Other goals of the policy include converting around 25% of the existing public transport infrastructure and last-mile delivery vehicles in five major cities to fully electric mode and conversion of 15% of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s existing bus fleet of 18,000 vehicles to the electric mode by 2025.

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Apple will give PC makers sleepless nights with MacBooks’ new computing direction

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Steve Jobs built Apple on a formula of enduring simplicity and usability. With products that are approachable, and easy-to-use for seven and seventy-year-olds alike, it created a user base that is as extensive as it is fiercely loyal.

This simple, ‘it just works’ approach is reflected in the company’s culture as well, and can be seen in the software underpinning its gadgets, such as iOS. As a result, iOS is one of the world’s most popular operating systems, and dead easy to use. All Apple devices run the same software, something no other business has yet accomplished. When we consider Apple’s main competitor, Android, we see that it is more complicated and fragmented than iOS, with updates sometimes taking months to roll out. This combination of technology with simplicity, creativity and design, has been Apple’s secret sauce for success for the longest time.

Not one to rest on its laurels, Apple has upgraded its product lines for the second month in a row. After the Apple iPhone and a portion of the iPad series were updated last month, it was now time for Apple’s Mac and AirPods to be updated. Apple not only unveiled the new Apple MacBook Pro 14, but also updated the MacBook Pro 16 after a long hiatus during its ‘Unleashed’ keynote. With the arrival of the Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max processors, the entire Mac line-up is looking to level up in the coming months.

“M1 Pro and M1 Max take Apple silicon even further, and are unlike anything else in a pro notebook,” says Johny Srouji, Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies at Apple. “With massive gains in CPU and GPU performance, up to six times the memory bandwidth, a new media engine with ProRes accelerators, and other advanced technologies, M1 Pro and M1 Max take Apple silicon even further, and are unlike anything else in a pro notebook.” According to Apple, the M1 Pro boasts a 16-core GPU that is up to 2x quicker than the M1 and up to 7x faster than the integrated graphics on the current Windows 8-core PC laptop chip.

For the first time, the MacBook line-up has two options that offer exactly the same series of features and specs. Both will get the M1 Pro and the M1 Max chips. The MacBook Pro 16-inch and an all new 14-inch join the existing MacBook line-up. The 16-inch variant is 16.8 mm thick while the 14-inch option is 15.5 mm thick, and the new design language adds rounded edges. Less reliance on dongles too, with the HDMI port, an SD card slot, headphone jack with Hi-Fi audio support and more Thunderbolt ports.

Apple has made some big statements about the new MacBooks’ battery life. They say that the 14 inch MacBook Pro can play video for up to 17 hours, and the 16 inch variant can play video for up to 21 hours.

When we look from this window, although there are many companies in our age, there is no other company that offers the depth and breadth of expertise Apple brings to the table. Another feature of Apple is that it intelligently extends its product range and range. With its latest product boasting a power-packed punch, Apple is well poised to take on all comers for some more time yet.

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How 5G rollout, tech innovations will define the future of Indian telecom

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According to a recent CII-Deloitte paper titled ‘Digital reset — Touching a billion Indians,’ technological breakthroughs with 5G could reshape the future of communication in India.  

India is making a big contribution to the next generation of telecom services, with enterprises partnering to widen options. Shortly, private networks are projected to witness a surge in demand from businesses in fields such as healthcare, education, finance, e-commerce, and entertainment.  

“Telecom has played a critical role in causing a shift in consumer behavior. According to Peeyush Vaish, Partner and Telecom Leader at Deloitte India, “data availability has pushed more and more digital services to the end-user.” 

However, India’s telecom sector still faces significant challenges on the route to the 5G rollout. “The government, telecom regulators, telecom service providers (TSPs), and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must collaborate,” Vaish said, citing poor fiberization, local hardware production, high spectrum costs, and the selection of appropriate 5G standards and bands as important challenges.

But even beyond the bones of infrastructure and networking that defines these technological advances, there is a story to be told beyond mere connectivity. India’s great mass huddles in its hinterland, and 5G, or even lesser forms of connectivity, have been levers of great social growth and upliftment, impacting our communities like never before. While the industry can be referred to in colder terms as a ‘service enabler’, the honest truth is that it is a democratiser par excellence, a lever for social equity that is truly once-in-a-generation. Digital India has laid the platform for a lot of these advances, and India Inc. too is playing a part in scripting this growth story. Through a continued collaboration of government and industry, India can hope to leapfrog its growth trajectory to an altogether new level on the back of this telecommunications push.

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Can fuel cells be a better option than EVs?

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As the automobile world is moving its focus to electric vehicles, traditional names like Tata Motors to new-age technology companies like Ather Energy and Ola are throwing their hat into the ring with an array of mobility solutions. As pollution levels touch extraordinary levels and the impact of climate change starts to make itself all the more apparent, a new wave of mobility seems to be taking root. 

Why FCEVs?

Every automobile enthusiast celebrated the introduction of EVs. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were the first EVs to hit the market. Despite their merits, these cars are not a viable alternative to Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) based vehicles because they have a limited range-per-charge capacity and are reliant on external charging facilities.Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs, can overcome this shortcoming and prove to be a better alternative to traditional ICE vehicles. 

FCEVs do not require external charging and instead use a fuel such as hydrogen to create the electricity needed for driving and to charge the built-in batteries for auxiliary functions. FCEVs, like ICE-based vehicles, will require gasoline, but it will be a green fuel that will not pollute the environment. What’s more, they do not produce noxious exhaust fumes; their only by-product is pure, distilled water, making it a clean, green mobility solution that can serve us all.

So when can I drive one? 

Although FCEVs are not yet present in India, they have been tested. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), the country’s largest power provider, had encouraged the automobile industry to procure such vehicles for experimental projects in 2021.  

According to news sources, the project has caught the interest of major automakers Toyota and Hyundai Motor, as well as Indian companies Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, and KPIT Technologies. Because their powerplants are so specialized, FCEVs are also much costlier to build than regular gas-powered cars, causing a bit of a catch-22 situation, as consumers are waiting to jump on this bandwagon once ownership costs get rationalised and the refueling infrastructure gets created. Automobile companies, on the other hand, are holding their cards close to their chest as they try to understand if there’s enough consumer interest to warrant the hefty investments FCEVs demand. This is a Mexican standoff that will go on for some time yet.

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