Electric Vehicle

India: Three-wheeler EV sales race past those of ICE models in April-May

On the back of rising demand from e-commerce firms and intra-city logistics players, sales of electric three-wheelers have overtaken internal combustion engine (ICE) models in April and May. During these two months, of the total retail sales of 83,904 units, electric models accounted for 42,977 units against 40,927 units of ICE variants, according to data from market intelligence firm PGA Labs.

The share of electric models in the three-wheeler segment has been steadily growing over the past three years. From 20% in FY20, it jumped to 34% in FY21 and then to 46% in FY22. The government is targeting 80% EV penetration for three-wheelers by 2030.

Industry executives FE spoke to said that the primary reason for the rise in demand for electric three-wheelers is their lower operating costs. As against `4 per km for a diesel model, an electric model that can carry a similar payload costs around a rupee per km.“Electric three-wheelers offer significantly better operating economics relative to ICE,” said Suman Mishra, CEO, Mahindra Electric Mobility, adding that the rising fuel prices have also tipped the balance in favour of electric vehicles (EVs).

In the electric three-wheeler segment, Mahindra offers cargo models like the Treo Zor and e-Alfa Cargo, and passenger models like Treo, Yaari and e-Alfa Mini.Sudhanshu Agrawal, EVP, electric vehicle business & exports, Piaggio India, said that the reason behind the growing acceptance of electric three-wheelers is the constant effort taken by the Central and state governments that has encouraged citizens to move towards EVs.

“The FAME II subsidy has played a pivotal role in bringing price parity as compared to ICE models available in the market,” he noted. The company has three electric models in the goods carrier space and two passenger carriers.The FAME II scheme provides support to electric three-wheelers priced under `5 lakh.

There is a subsidy of `10,000 per kWh depending on the battery size, with a cap of 20% of the vehicle cost, whichever is lower. Besides, some states also provide incentives in the form of waiving off of registration charges and road tax.Uday Narang, founder & chairman, Omega Seiki Mobility, said that the rising importance of last-mile deliveries for e-commerce has been underway for years, but Covid-19 intensified it.

“Since the pandemic started, consumers around the world, and certainly in India, have been shopping online in much larger numbers, which has increased the demand for last-mile delivery solutions, leading to growth in the electric three-wheeler market in India,” he added.

The company offers electric three-wheeler cargo models like the Rage+, Rage+ Rapid, Rage+ Swap and Rage+ Frost. It recently launched the Stream electric three-wheeler for the passenger segment.Although Bajaj Auto, the leader in both the passenger and cargo segments when it comes to ICE-powered three-wheelers, does not have electric three-wheelers at present, it is planning to launch them in September this year. The company will first introduce electric models for the passenger segment, followed by the cargo segment.

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