India’s EV ambition rides on three wheels

Context: Three-wheeler EVs have come to dominate the EV landscape in India. Given the success of e-three-wheelers, it is worth taking a closer look at their dominant position, how they got here, and what India’s EV policy can do to sustain their success and extend it to the other categories.

Domination of three-wheelers in EV segment

Three-wheeler EVs like e-autos and e-rickshaws account for close to 65% of all EVs registered in India.

  • In contrast, two-wheeler EVs come at a distant second with over 30% of registrations and passenger four-wheeler EVs at a meagre 2.5%.

Under the targets for FAME-II, e-three-wheelers have crossed over 4 lakh vehicles of the 5-lakh target since 2019. The numbers are expected to be higher given the prevalence of unregistered vehicles in India.

At the current rate, e-three-wheelers are expected to breach the 5-lakh target by 2023.

State wise trends of e-three-wheeler registrations in India

The EV registrations data show that Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal account for close to 80% of all e-three-wheeler registrations, with U.P. accounting for close to 40% of all registrations.

Of these five States, Assam, Delhi, U.P., and West Bengal have formalized EV policies while Bihar has a draft policy with a final policy due to be introduced later in 2022.

Indigenously designed and produced, e-three-wheelers like e-rickshaws have become a common sight in these States.

What are the reasons behind this growth?

State-specific factors

With financial assistance from FAME-II, local manufacturers have built a truly Indian EV with its unique design catering to Indian commuter needs. Costing between ₹1 lakh and ₹1.5 lakh, e-three-wheelers are produced by scores of local workshops and small enterprises and have come to dominate the e-three-wheeler market.

The EV policies put in place by these States as part of FAME-II have been instrumental in driving this growth. The focus of the EV policies of these five States is on accelerating adoption of EVs among consumers and promoting local manufacturing.

All five States provide road tax exemption of 100% and on registration fees.

Assam, Delhi and West Bengal have linked incentives to the battery size (in kWh) with additional benefits on interest rate on loans and scrappage incentives in some cases.

U.P. offers 100% interest-free loans to State government employees for purchasing EVs in the State and 30% subsidy on the road price of EVs to families with a single girl child. To promote sales of EVs manufactured within the State, U.P. exempts SGST on all such vehicles.

Bihar’s draft EV policy also focuses on adoption and manufacturing.

These States have performed exceptionally well in the FAME-II scheme and are on their way to achieve the target of 5 lakh e-three-wheelers.

High population density and shortage of affordable public transport in all these states, may also be contributing factors.

Overall factors

Developing both the demand and supply sides.

Subsidies, tax exemptions, and interest-free loans.

Why e-three-wheelers are more popular?

Inexpensive means of transport for millions, are easy to maintain, and have relatively low operating costs

The indigenous design allows for easy local manufacturing in workshops and small enterprises and makes them relatively easy to charge and maintain compared to their two-wheeler and four-wheeler counterparts.

Issues with e-two and four wheelers: This segment has problems both on the demand and supply side.

Since two-wheelers and four-wheelers are essentially associated with personal use, consumers are justifiably apprehensive in adopting such vehicles given the host of issues which come with it.

The recent incidents of fires in e-scooters have added to the apprehension.

Reliable manufacturers with proven track records in the two-wheeler and four-wheeler EV space in India are hard to come by.

This further adds to the supply side crunch and there are very few affordable offerings for the consumer.

Way forward

Subsequent EV policies must pay special attention to safety issues, and incorporate appropriate design and passenger safety standards.

State-level policies have led to an increasingly fragmented manufacturing industry with non-uniform standards. This fragmentation has led to legacy automakers struggling to compete with the large number of manufacturers in every State. EV policies must address this issue so that legacy automakers are not demotivated from competing in the e-three-wheeler space.

Future EV policies must therefore take into account the existing and emerging stakeholders on the demand and supply sides for effective implementation.

With the prevailing trajectory of EVs, India must take lessons from its e-three-wheeler success story to sustain its EV ambitions.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s EV ambition rides on three wheels” published in The Hindu on 1st June 22.

Print Friendly and PDF