The adoption of electric three-wheelers or e-rickshaws appears to be gaining traction in India as opposed to other modes of transport. This is due to many favorable factors.
Firstly, they are becoming economical or viable. Also, with the rapid reduction of li-ion battery costs and the government’s incentives under the FAME II program, three and two-wheeler segments have seen the entry of numerous players launching new EVs or in the process of introducing such vehicles.
The Government has already indicated that conventional (internal combustion engine-based) three-wheelers could be phased out from 2023.
Though vehicle makers have been seeking an extension of the deadline, electric three-wheelers, which are also known as e-rickshaws, appear to be finding good acceptance as zero-emission people transport vehicles.
Affordability, fewer range-related issues, and a better value proposition in the shared mobility space are some of the factors that make electric three-wheelers attractive not only for last-mile connectivity but also for short-distance commuting in the mass segment.
“Yes, the three-wheeler segment is the low hanging fruit for electrification. While these e-rickshaws are meant for shared mobility, it makes a strong appeal to its cost-conscious users. For customers, e-rickshaws offer rides at a cost as low as ₹10. Passengers will like it and use it,” Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Founder and CEO, Kinetic Green Energy and Power Solutions Ltd, told BusinessLine.
For the buyers, e-rickshaws promise good earnings because of the predictable route and range as well as low maintenance costs. “If one earns ₹1,000 a day on an e-rickshaw, the take-home money will be more than ₹900 as he has no fuel and maintenance costs. Also, the route is almost predictable and that makes the energy requirement optimal. In the case of conventional three-wheelers, one has to spend about ₹400 from the daily earning of ₹1,000 on fuel and others,” she added.
The metro rail networks across cities increasingly offer electric three and two-wheelers for last-mile connectivity.
“EVs are great for the last mile connectivity and several companies are targeting this segment. But, we need to ensure that sufficient charging infrastructure and parking spaces are provided at such locations to ensure such growth,” said Rahul Walawalkar, President & Managing Director, Customized Energy Solutions India Pvt Ltd.
Many large electric vehicle companies such as Kinetic Green and SmartE are working with government agencies to offer their e-rickshaws for the last mile connectivity from metro stations. The two companies are already doing it in a few metro stations.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of financiers are coming forward to provide lending support for e-rickshaws.
State EV policies
The Central Government’s FAME II aims to support five lakh three-wheelers to be used as public transport modes or registered as commercial vehicles.
Besides, several states’ EV policies also offer sops to boost adoption of electric three-wheelers. For example, Tamil Nadu’s EV policy offers 100 percent road tax exemption till 2022 and waiver of permit fees, among others. Almost 8-9 states have released their EV policies.
India is one of the largest markets in the world for three-wheelers and the total volumes stood at about 7 lakh units in FY19.