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THREE-WHEELIN’ IT

Lightweight rickshaws and scooters give India a seven-year edge over the US in EV pricing

REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
In the driving seat.
  • Sanaya Chandar
By Sanaya Chandar

Reporting Intern

Published

India is all set to beat the US when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs) prices.

By 2023, the prices of EVs in India will become competitive with those for petrol and diesel vehicles, at least seven years before that happens in the US, according to a report by US-based Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) on emerging battery technologies.

“Markets like India that use smaller and lighter EVs are expected to become competitive well before markets where larger vehicles dominate,” said the report that was published last week. “Electric two- and three-wheelers are expected to become competitive on a capital cost basis by 2023, and will account for over 80% of such passenger vehicles sold by 2030 (in India),” states the report.

Unlike in the US where e-cars are the main drivers for EV adoption, in India, it’s the more-affordable e-scooters and e-rickshaws that are leading the e-mobility revolution. Compact vehicles like e-rickshaws and e-scooters are smaller and relatively cheaper to manufacture than wheeled cars. So dominant are three-wheeled EVs in India that in 2018, Bloomberg reported that the number of e-rickshaws in India outnumbered battery-powered passenger cars in China. Given the trend, shared mobility startups such as Ola are putting electric auto-rickshaws at the centre of their electrification goals.

By contrast, American drivers’ penchant for larger cars like SUVs and trucks presents a stickier path for the US. A larger EV is also a more expensive one. Consequently, this preference for a bigger vehicle is pushing the date when American EVs become competitive to 2030, as per the report.

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