India: 6 Million Electric Vehicles By 2020, Why It May Work

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With most electric cars currently selling in no more than four-figure sums each month, a time when they're selling by the million looks an awfully long way away.

In India, that time might arrive a whole lot quicker.

The country's National Council for Electric Mobility (NCEM) has approved a $4.1 billion plan to sell six million hybrid and electric vehicles over the next eight years.

While six million hybrids on their own is easily achievable--it's not out of the question that a company like Toyota could sell that number on its own, giving their increasing hybrid sales--the target may look a little optimistic for all-electric vehicles.

However, we think that electric sales in the millions aren't out of the question in India, even given the relatively near 2020 target. In the U.S, most are predicting that the one million plug-in mark will be reached in around 2018.

One reason for that is the type of vehicles being sold. As InAutoNews reports, four million of those six million hybrids and electrics are expected to be two-wheelers.

In countries like India, where household incomes are relatively low, two-wheelers are still the most cost-effective means of transportation, particularly with electric vehicles that tend to cost a little more. A study in 2010 revealed that 12 percent of commuting traffic in India is on motorcycles, far higher than anywhere else.

The next factor in the favor of EVs is that India's journeys are particularly well-suited to electric vehicles.

For a start, though the commutes aren't necessarily long, they're time-consuming--the 2010 study suggested that up to a quarter of commuters spends over 90 minutes per day traveling, often in traffic. It leaves many of India's cities heavily polluted, and six million electric and hybrid vehicles would go some way to reducing that environmental impact.

Overall, the NCEM is predicting fossil fuel savings of between 2-2.5 million tonnes by 2020.

And for the average Indian with their half-hour commute, range anxiety shouldn't be an issue either. The cars are certainly improving, as the Mahindra-Reva NXR has shown--it's a significant step up over its G-Wiz predecessor.

Six million electrics and hybrids by 2020? Not a problem in India.

And if Elon Musk is to be believed, up to half of all new vehicles by 2032 will be electric...


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Comments (6)
  1. isnt this the same country that barely manages to provide a pathetic level of power now?

  2. Only 4 million E-bikes on the road in India by 2020? Doesn't sound too ambitious, in China there is over 150 million of them on the road today.

  3. I think they're aiming for more motorcycles and scooters than electric bicycles, though I expect China has a reasonable number of those too.

  4. Part 1 -
    Well Electric Two Wheelers are already on sale in India, but they are not selling good because
    1) They dont have good range. No Electric Scooter have relieble range more than 50 Km.
    2) As those vehicles are launched by small companies there is no infrasctucture for Servicing and Repairing those Electric Two Wheelers.
    3) It is very difficult to beat Petrol Bikes with many bikes having mileage more than 60 Km Per Liter. So Petrol Bikes are already much cheaper to operate.
    4) In many Indian big Cities people lives in Apartments/Flats, so installation of electric chargers will be difficult.
    5) In many backward states electricity is avalable only for 12 hours a day.

  5. I certainly agree with 3). On holidays I experienced about 50KM/litre on a rented Yamaha Crypton 110 cc four stroke bike in mountainous terrain. With that sort of gas mileage there seems little incentive to go electric. Didn't stop ~150 million Chinese though...

  6. Part 2 -
    So for better sale of electric vehicles they need to improve Quality, reliability and Range.
    Electric cars still is distant dream. Success of Reva NXR will be in its pricing and nobody in India bothered to buy their previous model Reva G-Wiz. They were much successful in selling G-Wiz in Europe than India.

    (This is for Anthony)- Two wheeler commute is done by approx 50% people in India. The figure 12% is not correct.

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