If you live in India, chances are you would have thought/ experienced air pollution, noise pollution and, of course, congestion in your daily life. And if you are in Delhi NCR, you would have all of this in your face. If you happen to be in running half or full marathons like I do, you would crave for breath of fresh air. Back in 2015, I started thinking on Electric Vehicles and why it’s a no brainer given the pollution, congestion and not to mention a massive energy security risk (we import 90% of our crude oil consumption). So why were EV’s not becoming mainstream in India?
From a global perspective, EV story is being scripted by generous subsidies and incentives with China in the pole position. In China it’s about massive electrification of public transport, 2W and increasingly focused on cars. For ROW, it’s primarily driven by new and incumbent automotive OEMs. India, given its fiscal position, doesn’t have the luxury of generous fiscal incentives.
“Kitna deti hai”… the punchline of Maruti Suzuki ad captures the essence of key psyche of Indian consumer…we look, scrape, fight for value for money. A more sophisticated way to put it would be Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) framework. EV adoption would only happen when consumers see a clear value compared to the current alternative. Since EV drive trains are super energy efficient compared to ICE (internal combustion engine), fuel costs go down by 70%. Decision to shift to EV would be determined by fuel savings and not just cost of vehicle.
We concluded that India’s EV deployment would be led by fleets.Question was which segment to focus on? Would it be fleets of two-wheelers (2W), three-wheelers, cars or buses? Which will create maximum impact and more importantly can be scaled up quickly?
Three-wheelers and buses are strong contenders for electrification of fleets. Cars and 2W market demand is dominated by personal vehicles so TCO is not really the only metric consumer would care about. In addition, cars require network of chargers before it can take off in a meaningful way.
“When we started interacting with operators, the big question was “why to go for electric” instead of “how to convert to electric“. Our impression of EVs in India has been formed basis e-rickshaws which have proliferated everywhere, golf carts and occasionally seen Mahindra REVA. The impression is that of vehicles with low performance, low speed and limited capacity. From an engineer’s perspective this couldn’t be further from the truth. EV traction systems generate maximum torque at zero RPM and with enough power can accelerate faster than ICE.
We ran our first bus on Manali to Rohtang pass to address customer concerns around performance. Our first electric bus was a left hand drive bus in 2016. None of the Indian OEMs could give us an electric bus. Today we have 3-4 new electric bus OEMs offering different technology choices. We are finding buses to have profound impact on overall ecosystem of public transport. Drivers are happy because of automatic drive and smooth acceleration. Commuters are happy with less noise, lower vibrations and no exhausts.
There would be another key distinction of India’sEV story. It will be dominated by mobility solution providers rather than automotive OEMs as in the rest of the world. There is need to drive optimization and utilization to make EV compete with ICE. We at Mozev are focused on providing full stack solution to bus operators that enables them to seamlessly transition to E-buses.
Expect to see many more electric buses on road in your city or between cities soon and if you are planning to go to Manali this summer. Do take a ride in our electric buses from Manali to Rohtang pass.
We found buses as our sweet spot. They run on planned routes, consume lot of diesel, help reduce congestion and carry millions of people per day, more than any other segment. Buses are the most dominant mode of surface transport in India. They constitute over 70% of the total people km travelled on surface including railways.