Lining Up for the Big Indian EV Race

Despite some thoughtful initiatives over the last few years, the electric vehicles (EV) industry in India, remains nascent.

In fiscal 2017-2018, according to India’s Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), the EV market in India stood at about 56,000 units sold, as against about 25,000 units sold in fiscal 2016-17.  About 90 % of the EVs sold were low-speed two-wheeler scooters (less than 25km/hr), that did not require registration and licenses. Electric cars and other four wheeled vehicles accounted for less than 4,000 units sold.

For ongoing 2018-19 fiscal, the first six months saw around 35,000 units sold, with cars accounting for less than 700 units.  Without any further government incentives announced so far, EV sales are expected to be around 74,000 units for the full year.

Government Sets Course for Electric Cars

Though EVs currently account for less than 1% of total new vehicle sales in the country, with appropriate government stimuli, they could possibly grow to over 5% in the next few years. While there are over 400 hundred thousand electric two wheelers on Indian roads, there are just a few thousand electric cars. Industry volumes have fluctuated widely, depending on incentives offered by the government from time to time.

Most recently, supporting the government’s mission of more than 30% EVs by 2030, the Ministry of Power has launched the National Electric Mobility Programme (NEMP), focused on building charging infrastructure. The program is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a JV of four public sector undertakings, entrusted with demand creation of EVs in India. Through aggregation of public sector demand and bulk procurement, EESL seeks to urgently create critical mass for EV production in the country.

At end of 2017, EESL had signed contracts to procure 10,000 electric cars and had issued a global tender for procurement of another 10,000 in March 2018. These new electric cars are to replace an estimated 500,000 petrol and diesel cars currently used by the government and its agencies.  The government’s electric vehicle fleet now consists of Mahindra e-Verito and Tata Tigor EVs, supplied by India’s two leading local electric car manufacturers, Mahindra Electric and Tata Motors.

Auto Manufacturers Get into Gear

Various other automobile manufacturers too have now started working extensively towards introducing EVs in their portfolio. Major players like Renault, Hyundai and Suzuki, among others, had presented their EVs at Delhi’s 2018 International Auto Expo.

Tata Motors exhibited a range of EVs across personal, as well as mass mobility categories, while Mahindra & Mahindra unveiled its range, which includes Treo, a battery-electric three-wheeler, and e-Cosmo, a bus.

Renault exhibited its mini electric car ZOE and Trezor, a two-seater concept electric sports car. Hyundai confirmed its EV debut in India by 2019. Hyundai is betting on Hybrid Ioniq and fuel cell EV Nexo.

Japanese car-maker Suzuki plans to launch its first EV in partnership with Toyota by 2020.  It will shortly carry out test runs using a fleet of 50 EV prototype vehicles, ensuring development of safe, easy-to-use EVs specifically suited for Indian climatic and traffic conditions. The company, in collaboration with Denso and Toshiba, also plans to commence production of lithium-ion batteries for automobiles in Gujarat by 2020.

Ashok Leyland, India’s leading bus manufacturer, announced the launch of its first electric bus, Circuit S.  Chinese motor company SAIC, as MG Motors India, is already testing two EV models in the Halol area of Gujarat, determining their range for Indian conditions.

Pit Stops at Lighthouse Cities

Simultaneously, many companies have already begun setting up charging stations on their campuses as well as in some public places. At the Hyderabad campus of the IT firm Cognizant, Tata Power has set up three EV fast charging stations. Finnish state-owned company, Fortum, has set up two EV charging stations at Indian Oil outlets for public use in Hyderabad, one of six cities earmarked as a “Lighthouse City” – a living laboratory for conceiving, financing and piloting mobility solutions, aligned with the Government’s mission for a shared, electric, and connected mobility future. Fortum plans to set up another 150 to 200 charging points in the country. At Nagpur, another Lighthouse City, charging stations were opened in collaboration with Ola, India’s home-grown cab aggregator, as part of a pilot for launching 200 EVs including buses, autorickshaws and cars. ACME Group, the solar power developer, supported Ola’s efforts by providing the battery charging and swapping stations.

Lining Up

Despite these ambitious initiatives by government and private enterprises, a lack of any large scale or significant result is apparent. However, varied and fragmented achievements at different periods by different sectors, do suggest that India, with a well-coordinated and focused deployment of EV polices, will surely move forward rapidly.

Much like a jigsaw puzzle – with pieces initially fitting together as smaller blocks, in time, the entire image will eventually build-up.  It’s with this emerging big picture in mind that stakeholders continue to stay the course in this big race for EVs in India. Surely, with the right products, technology and scale, there will be many winners in the race ahead.

Concluding, leading Indian EV manufacturers in the current line up include:

Hero Electric

Leading the race currently, by sales volume, is Hero Electric, India’s pioneer and leader in electric two-wheeled vehicles, with over a dozen two-wheeled EVs developed and introduced in the country. Models include Hero Electric Maxi, Hero Electric NYX E5, Hero Electric Flash, Hero Electric Optima Plus.

Ather Energy

In 2016, Hero MotoCorp, India’s largest two-wheeled manufacturer, invested over US$ 30 million for a 32% stake in Ather Energy, a Bangalore-based two-wheeled designer/manufacturer of electric scooters. In 2018, Hero MotoCorp invested another US$ 19 million.  Deliveries of the first Ather 450 scooter commenced in September this year.

TVS Electric

TVS Motors, with a history of 150 years, is one of India’s most versatile automakers. TVS recently, entered into EVs with TVS Creon, a performance-oriented electric scooter, inspired by TVS’s racing DNA.

YO Bykes, Electrotherm (India)

A Gujarat-based Automaker company.  Popular for budget-friendly, low speed electric scooters, targeted towards students. No driving license or registration is required to ride these E-bikes. Models include YO Xplore, YO Electron, and YO Edge.

Mahindra Electric

A Mumbai based multinational car manufacturing company, Mahindra has first-mover advantage in electric mobility. Mahindra has launched four electric vehicles in the Indian market including cars, vans, and auto rickshaws. From 2020, the company has plans for 60,000 EVs. Models include Mahindra eVerito, e2o, eSupro , eAlfa Mini and Treo.

Tata Electric Vehicles

Tata Motors, India’s leading maker of passenger cars, trucks  and buses, has already designed and showcased three electric cars – Tata Tigor EV, Tata Tiago EV, and Tata Evision.

Tata Tigor, Tata Tiago, will be commercially available in the first half of 2019. Tata Evision, a concept electric car, will be available from September 2019.

Ola Electric

An Indian origin cab aggregator, Ola has successfully tested electric cabs in Nagpur and received positive feedback from passengers. It has announced an ambitious mission to operate a million electric vehicles, mostly e-rickshaws, by the end of 2021.

Ashok Leyland 

Ashok Leyland, a south India-based company, is the country’s largest bus maker. Ashok Leyland unveiled its new electric model Circuit S, a commercially viable bus, based on battery swapping, to be available in 2019.  Circuit S is developed in partnership with Bangalore-based Sun Mobility.

Menza Motors 

Menza Motors is also a Gujarat-based electric motorbike manufacturer. Its first model Menza Lucat – introduced as a factory-customized motorcycle, is built according to the rider’s requirements, aiming to appeal to performance bikers. Over 70 percent of its components are locally sourced.

Emflux Motors

Emflux is a fast-growing automobile start-up company in India. Its first superbike – Emflux One, received an overwhelming response from young bike lovers at Delhi’s 2018 Auto expo. To be launched in April 2019, Emflux One will have a price tag of over US$ 7,000.

Twenty Two Motors

Twenty Two Motors, another start-up company, focuses on manufacturing electric scooters. Flow, a youthful-styled electric scooter, launched at the Delhi 2018 Auto Expo, is Twenty Two Motors first EV.