Electric car sales down by 5%: Indian EV industry sees steady growth in FY2019-20

Despite the downturn of the automotive industry, the Indian electric vehicle segment has seen significant growth in the 2019-20 financial year. However, sales of electric cars have dropped, but there is a silver lining.

Tata Motors has resumed production at its Pimpri plant in Pune from this week.
Tata Motors has resumed production at its Pimpri plant in Pune from this week.

In the financial-year 2019-20, electric vehicle sales in India stood at 1,56,000 units. Recording a significant growth of 20%, the Indian EV industry sold 1,52,000 electric two-wheelers, 3,400 cars and 600 busses. In the previous fiscal, the EV industry sold 1,26,000 two-wheelers, 3,600 electric cars and 400 electric busses – a cumulative total of 130,000 E-vehicles. The significant growth of 20% for the overall industry was largely contributed by electric two-wheelers. A segment which itself grew by 20%. Sales of electric busses also grew 50% year on year.

Breaking them further down, electric two-wheeler sales in 2019-20 FY was heavily contributed by e-Scooters consisting of 97%of the overall volumes. Electric Motorcycles sold in very small numbers, while the rest of the 3% was contributed by electric cycles. Closer inspection revealed that among the electric two-wheeler segment, 90% of them were models that were restricted to 25kmph max speed, meaning that the models that do not require to be registered were highly popular.

But, electric cars took a hit in the last financial year recording a drop of 5.5%. Selling 3400 units against 3600 units from the previous fiscal, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) states that this was due to the lack of bulk purchase of electric cars during the period. Additionally, SMEV also says that the most popular electric car (Mahindra E-Verito) in India was discontinued as well, which contributed to the slump in numbers.

The acceptance of premium electric cars in the second half of the year gave a positive signal. SMEV projects a quantum jump of a much higher volume of E-cars in FY 20-21. Additionally, the union body mentioned that the E-Taxi segment is also beginning to get some traction. However, the range of these electric cars and the lack of charging infrastructure are deterrent in the growth of the segment.

Sohinder Gill, Director General, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles said, The EV industry is taking shape and we believe that despite the COVID 19, the FY 20-21 will be a defining year for all the EV segments. I feel, given the right impetus by the government and the industry, the EV industry can spring back faster than the ailing IC vehicles segment. A pertinent factor that may work in favour of E2Ws post-COVID would be the choice of switching over from crowded mass transport to the sensibly priced electric two-wheelers with almost the same cost of commuting, as of public transport”.

Gill suggested that experiments like electric two-wheelers with swappable batteries being sold without the batteries, and having customers paying for the batteries as separate like fuel can help E-commerce companies realising the economic benefits of EVs and converting their fleets.

SMEV said that these figures do not include the sale of electric 3-wheelers or E-Rickshaws as they are largely sold in the unorganised sector. However, the segment reportedly saw the sale of 90,000 units, but growth trajectory is not available as the sale of E-Rickshaws has not been documented in the previous years.

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First published on: 20-04-2020 at 15:26 IST