More than 60 years ago, a Distinguished Professor and Marketing Guru, Everett M. “EV” Rogers gave us the ‘diffusion of innovations’ theory. He posited in 1962 that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the participants in a social system. These participants can broadly be classified into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. While innovators and early adopters form the initial tail of the bell curve (15%), the early and late majority group belong to the huge chunk in the middle (close to 70%).
The year 2022 belonged to the innovators and the early adopters in the Electric Vehicles space (EV). An entire EV ecosystem was born and took shape in this year and was accelerated to some extent due to the push from Central and State Governments with incentives like FAME subsidies, tax breaks etc and initiatives like setting up the charging infrastructure. Coupled with massive petrol and diesel prices in 2022, the push towards EVs intensified especially in the commercial last mile delivery sector. Furthermore, unique businesses such as electric mobility as a service (eMaaS) have emerged which fully remove all major obstacles to EV adoption such as high upfront costs, maintenance hassles and range anxiety.
That is why despite two years of the pandemic, the sector has shown no signs of slowing down. 2022 has truly been an electrifying year for the industry. From 3.2 lakh EVs in 2021 to around 10 lakh electric vehicles in 2022, India’s EV sector has grown over 200 percent this year, according to data released by VAHAN. From 0.7 percent adoption in 2019, and 2020 to 1.7 percent in 2021. 4.7 percent of all vehicles sold in 2022 were electric.
The innovators and early adopters paved the way in 2022 and the time is ripe for the early and late majority groups to adopt EVs. For this to become a reality in the soonest possible manner, there continue to be a few systemic issues which I think will be ironed out in 2023.
Battery Safety – This has been a prickly issue in 2022 with several incidents reported from across the country and even the world about vehicles catching fire. But a government backed probe by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has highlighted the quality control concerns in July 2022 which have been taken on board by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). In 2023, rather than just such reactionary measures, I foresee a proactive approach to battery safety which will arise from the feedback by early adopters. Electric Vehicles will be lot safer overall which will speed up adoption.
Maintenance and Support Infrastructure – There are more than 5,00,000 vehicle mechanic establishments in India, big and small combined but very few which are geared to cater to the needs of the EV market. A maintenance and breakdown support infrastructure for EVs will be an absolutely crucial element to sustain the potentially explosive growth that EV adoption will witness in 2023. Therefore, all-encompassing EV adoption models such as eMaaS will drive the creation of a new workforce, trained specifically for the EV ecosystem.
Newer Operating Models needed for EV adoption – For EV adoption to reach a critical mass will require newer operating models like eMaaS, which has inherently higher utilisation of EV assets which will further help in optimisation of charging and swapping networks put by both the Government and private players. This will immensely aid in the growth of charging and swapping networks. So far, they have been less than 700 exclusive charging stations and 3500 in total with less than 500 companies in this ecosystem; compared to more than 81,000 petrol pumps and more than 50,000 entrepreneurs running them. This scenario will begin to flip towards more entrepreneurship in the EV charging and battery swapping space. A large network of such stations will get established across the country and in major cities.
Given the blistering pace at which progress is being made in this sector, I have no doubt that the above trends will hold good and ensure that all categories of adopters will move towards EVs. In that sense, 2023 will be a watershed year from where a full scale transition of India’s roads to EVs will begin.
(The author is Mr. Gaurav Rathore, Co-Founder EVeez and the views expressed in this article are his own)