The future of mobility is clean and sustainable and it is only a matter of time that India makes a bigger splash in the global green mobility market. Enter Electric Vehicles (EVs). Needless to say, in a country, where public transportation is inadequate and cars are out of reach for most, EVs in the form of electric scooters have enormous growth potential that can help India reach the target of net-zero carbon emission in a decade.
The most recent offering is from EV Scooter rental startup Bounce that is all set to launch its EV scooters called Bounce Infinity, the pre-bookings for which will begin soon and deliveries to start by January next year.
Experts believe, factors such as increasing government support, decreasing cost of technology, growing interest of the country in EVs, distressing pollution levels, would accelerate India’s transition to EVs.
“The most unique thing about our EV is that it comes with removable batteries, so you can remove them, carry them and charge. You can also decide not to buy battery and use our swapping network,” said Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO and co-founder, Bounce in a tweet.
Since batteries can account for 40-50% of an electric scooter’s cost, Bounce customers will have the option to use battery as a service, which will be first of its kind in the Indian market. Scooter without battery means, the customer pays for the battery whenever they swap an empty battery with charged battery in company’s swapping network.
Hallekere also said that back in 2018, since the company’s inception, it realized the importance of EVs for Bounce fleet and started working on understanding EVs. It decided to solve for two things- build a scooter that works for India and uses Indian two-wheeler ecosystem parts for supply chain.
“And second, a battery swapping infrastructure so that there is no downtime for charging, unlimited range and you don’t have to search for a charger,” he said.
The Bengaluru-based company has constantly been innovating in the smart mobility space, since inception, its first Bounce dockless bikes were launched in Bengaluru in May 2018, with a view to providing a sustainable solution. The company has set aside $100 million to be invested in the EV business over the next one year.
The World Economic Forum and Ola Electric highlighted that the Indian automobile industry is one of the fastest-growing markets globally, but it still just makes up 0.5% of the global EV market. With two-wheelers accounting for 80% of vehicle sales in India, BloombergNEF expects electric motorcycles and scooters to account for 74% of all such vehicles sold by 2040, up from less than 1% now.
The goal is now to come on par with China, the USA and Japan in terms of the manufacturing and sales of passenger and commercial electric vehicles. As Hallekere strongly believes that India cannot miss the bus on EV renaissance taking over the World.
So, it is not surprising that with new technologies and features, even traditional vehicle companies like Hero Electric Vehicles Pvt. Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. a unit of India’s biggest ride-hailing services provider Ola, are betting big on electric two-wheelers in the country.
Ola Electric’s invite-only test ride drive for its S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters recently began in four cities, including Ahmadabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru, for the customers who had booked it online. It was launched in August this year.
The company plans to begin first batch of deliveries soon after the test rides are over. Earlier in September, Ola Electric had raised $200 million to accelerate its plans to develop electric motorcycles and cars as well.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder of Ola Cabs had tweeted that the fund raise is a part of the EV startup’s plans to fast track its ‘Mission Electric: No petrol 2W in India after 2025’. The company envisions that there will not be any petrol-powered two-wheeler running on the country’s roads by mid-decade.
Mahindra & Mahindra also announced its plans to launch 16 EVs by 2027 across SUV and light commercial vehicle categories to strengthen its leadership position in India’s EV segment,.
More recently, the Indian government has announced multiple plans to speed up the EV transition. Last week, India also launched the ‘E-Amrit’ web portal on EVs at the ongoing COP26 Summit in Glasgow. The website contains information related to burst myths around the adoption of EVs, their purchase, investment opportunities, policies, subsidies, among others.
Developed and hosted by NITI Aayog, under a collaborative knowledge exchange program with the UK government and as part of the UK-India Joint Roadmap 2030, E-Amrit portal intends to complement initiatives of the government on raising awareness around EVs and sensitizing consumers on the benefits of switching to electric mobility, NITI Aayog said. EV policies have so far been implemented in 14 Indian states.
Additionally, international players are also eyeing India market. Taiwan tech giant Foxconn’s chairman Liu Young-way recently said that the company is looking at making EVs in Europe, India and Latin America, in cooperation with German automakers.
However, one major hurdle in India’s EV transition is the need for charging infrastructure. According to Grant Thornton Bharat-Ficci’ report, India needs about 4,00,000 charging stations to meet the requirement for two million EVs that could move on its roads by 2026.
According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, as of March 2021, India has 1,800 charging stations for around 16,200 electric cars, including the fleet segment.
Effort are however being taken to resolve the issue. Last month, Reliance Industries’ mobility joint venture with BP also launched its first mobility retail outlet in Maharashtra. This will also provide customers with EV charging and battery swapping options. Moreover, the Mukesh Ambani-led company also finalized an agreement with startup BluSmart to set up EV charging infrastructure in India.
In September 2021, Hero Electric also said that it had joined hands with EV startup Massive Mobility to set up 10,000 charging stations across the country next year. The Indian Oil Corporation also recently announced its plans to set up 10,000 charging stations in three years.
According to the Ficci report, the EV industry is anticipated to be a strong factor in the revival of the economy. For India to reach its net-zero carbon emission targets, accompanied by a series of near-term goals, like reaching 500 GW of non-fossil electricity capacity and to reduce projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes and other milestones, will present an enormous challenge. From that perspective. EVs can contribute to a significant amount of this ambitious target.