Groceries stashed in the back of an electric delivery scooter are an increasingly familiar sight in the Indian city of Bengaluru. In crowded markets, electric rickshaws drop off and pick up passengers. And the number of tech startups focused on electric transport has shot up as the city — and country — embrace electric vehicles.
India is one of the fastest-growing electric vehicle markets in the world and now has millions of EV owners. More than 90% of its 2.3 million electric vehicles are the cheaper and more popular two- or three-wheelers — that’s motorbikes, scooters and rickshaws — and over half of India’s three-wheeler registrations in 2022 were electric, according to an IEA report released in April.
A $1.3 billion federal plan to encourage EV manufacturing and provide discounts for customers, along with the past decade’s rising fuel costs and consumer awareness of the long-term cost benefits are combining to drive up sales, analysts say.
Electric vehicles are one solution to bring down planet-warming emissions and improve air quality — with road transport contributing significantly to global emissions. For the electric vehicles market to successfully slash carbon, experts say moving electricity generation away from fossil fuels, managing critical mineral supply chains and boosting EV sales across different socioeconomic backgrounds in the country will be key.
Balaji Premkumar, a 25-year-old rickshaw delivery driver, switched to an EV earlier this year. At most traffic stops he’s surrounded by gas-powered three-wheelers that rumble and rattle, spewing thick smoke into the air — something that his used to do, too, before he went electric.
Premkumar said the new vehicle is easier and more comfortable to drive and he can already see a cost difference. “If I spend 60 rupees (0.72 cents) to charge the vehicle for three hours, I get 80 kilometers (50 miles). In a diesel vehicle I’ll be spending at least 300 rupees ($3.60) to get the same mileage,” he said.