Two-wheelers, not cars, a better bet to meet India’s electric vehicle goal
Hurt by high fuel prices, Vinod Gore, a farmer in Gove village in Maharashtra, ditched his petrol scooter for an electric model, underlining how two-wheelers are driving the country’s goal of electrification of its vehicles.
Gore’s electric scooter, built by Indian start-up Okinawa, runs for about 100-120 km (60-75 miles) on a single charge which costs the sugarcane farmer less than 10 percent of the 150 rupees ($2.15) he would otherwise have spent on fuel for the same distance.
“I bought it to save money,” said Gore, who paid 75,000 rupees ($1,077) for the scooter and expects to recover the cost in two to three years in terms of savings on petrol and maintenance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has set a target of electric vehicles making up 30 percent of new sales of cars and two-wheelers by 2030 from less than 1 percent today.
Electric scooters make up a fraction of the total but are growing fast. In fiscal 2017-18, sales more than doubled to 54,800 from a year ago while electric car sales fell to 1,200 from 2,000 over the same period, according to data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV).
By 2030, sales of electric scooters are expected to cross 2 million a year, even as most carmakers resist bringing electric cars to India.
The roadblocks for scooters are fewer. Compared with cars, scooters are lighter, which means they can use less powerful batteries that are cheaper.
The scooters can also be charged quickly and more easily, often using existing plug points in homes, and their price is similar to petrol-powered models.
The challenge is that most electric scooters sold today are utilitarian and not as powerful as models that run on petrol that can go faster and climb gradients easily. The supply chain is not robust which means manufacturers need to rely on imported components.