Sale of electric vehicles in India grew by 20 per cent at 156,000 units in fiscal 2020 led largely by two-wheelers that form bulk of the nascent industry. Electric two-wheelers sales stood at 152,000 units during the fiscal registering a 20.7 per cent growth over last year. Electric cars accounted for 3,400 units a marginal decline from 3600 units of last year while bus sales were 600 units against 400 units in 2018-19.
These figures do not include e-rickshaws that largely form the unorganised part of the sector. Industry body Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicle estimated the number of e-rickshaw sales during the year at around 90,000 units. The corresponding figures of the e-ricks sold in the previous year have not been documented, it said.
"The EV industry is taking shape and we believe that despite the COVID-19, the FY 20-21 will be a defining year for all the EV segments. While the EV industry is surely going to face the brunt of Covid-19 like any other automotive business, the clearer skies and the cleaner air even in the worst polluting cities is certainly leaving a permanent impression in the minds of the customers about how they can breathe easy and remain healthy if the society moves towards e-mobility," said Sohinder Gill, Director General, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles. "The latest Harvard research of how PM2.5 pollution can multiply the risk of COVID deaths is a stark reality of how the pollutants of the IC vehicles can harm us and is certainly going to make the policymakers think on how to accelerate the EV growth. I feel, given the right impetus by the government and the industry, the EV industry can spring back faster than the ailing IC vehicles segment."
Of the electric two-wheelers sold in FY19-20, 97 per cent were electric scooters and a very small volume of motorcycles and electric cycles that accounted for the remaining 3 per cent. Low-speed scooters that go at a max speed of 25km/hr and do not need registration with the transport authorities constituted a whopping 90 per cent of all the electric two-wheelers sold.
In the electric four-wheeler segment the decrease in numbers was mainly due to lack of bulk purchase of e-cars in FY19-20 and discontinuation of one of the leading car models-the Mahindra e2O plus. Yet SMEV said the acceptability of electric cars in the premium segment in the second half of the year with the launch of models like Hyundai Kona and MG ZS, was a positive signal that bodes well for fiscal 2021. Further, the e-taxi segment has also started gaining some traction though the range of e-cars and lack of charging spots remain a deterrent.
"A pertinent factor that may work in favour of electric two-wheelers post-COVID would be the choice of switching over from crowded mass transport to the sensibly priced electric two-wheelers with almost the same cost of commuting, as of public transport," Gill said. "Few experiments like electric two-wheelers being sold without the batteries and customer paying for the batteries as a fuel, e-commerce companies realising the economic benefits of EVs and converting their fleets, e-carts becoming a convenient and cost-effective means of short distance logistics, e-taxis fleets beginning to make money due to lower operating costs may bring around the inflection point in the EV industry in FY 21-22."