Electric bikes might help India achieve its EV dream

Electric Vehicles in India is slowly and steadily growing in India. It is still not up there with the major countries, it is still struggling with the basics of the infrastructure in India. Increasing the production of vehicles is not the only thing India needs to do but it also needs to raise a lot of infrastructures. That is because there is no point in having thousands of EVs out there and no charging stations.

However, there is a phase shift taking place. There are people who are absolutely fed up with the high fuel prices. The fuel costs were sky high a month or two ago and they are still very high compared to a year earlier. There was a time when petrol prices reached INR 90 per litre in metro cities and there was a huge backlash on the government. However, it was a blessing in disguise as many of them, after totally giving up on fuel, turned to electric scooters. Electric Scooters or Electric Bikes are easier to produce and cheaper to buy. There are many manufacturers out there who are working towards bringing more electric bikes on the road.

There was a sugarcane farmer who was also fed up with the fuel prices and bought an electric bike made by an Indian startup which goes by the name of Okinawa. The farmer bought the bike for INR 75000 which is the average price for a fuel-based bike in India. India is also the largest users of scooters and motorcycles. It sells almost 19 million units annually and this was the number taken during March 31, 2018. This number is six-fold more than the car sales.

In that case, the potential for the market is absolutely huge. Electric Scooters can take over the fuel based motorbikes. This is because they are not meant to travel long distances and the charging of these bikes can take place through normal electric ports as well. That said, the Okinawa bike travels up to 120 KM in a single charge which will only require around 10% of the money otherwise required for a fuel-based bike.

Electric bikes do not take up a large market share but are growing rapidly. The e-bikes are growing faster than e-cars is because of the cost required in making bikes is not huge. The batteries are much cheaper and it is efficient for the users as charging stations are not a worry. That said, there were around 54,800 units of e-bikes sold in the Financial Year 2017-18 while there were only 1200-1400 units of e-cars sold in the same year.

The struggle for bringing in e-cars is real and it will take a lot of time for India to overcome that. The batteries of e-cars are also very expensive as they are imported from China. None of the batteries are manufactured in India, that said, e-bikes is the way for India to move forward in achieving Prime Minister Modi’s dream of 30% electric vehicles by the year 2030. It is an unusual way of achieving the dream of the PM but it surely is a way to move forward.

– Unmesh Phule

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