E-Rickshaw Growth and Transformation

E-rickshaw industry is booming with all its might in the Indian market. Home to 1.5 million
battery-run three-wheelers, the segment had shown tremendous growth over the past years
despite the economic slowdown. The growth rate in this sector was reported to be around 21 per
cent during the year 2018-19 to 6,30,000 units as compared to 5,20,000 units in the previous
year. It has been estimated that the e-rickshaw sales figures will touch 1,00,000 units mark every
single month, the interesting part being most of it would be owned by unorganized players.

Innovation being the backbone of this emerging market, established companies such as Mahindra
and Piaggio is finding it difficult to establish their presence similar to that of in the IC engine
category. Startups and small manufacturing facilities for e-rickshaws are trying their best to
address issues related to range and affordability from grass root level which makes their offering
unique compared to their corporate counterparts.

Last-mile connectivity in the Indian markets are driven by economic factor only and with the
adoption of electric vehicles as an alternative, this can be easily achieved even when pitched
directly against an IC engine auto rickshaw. The benefits are being reflected because of the lower
cost per km and reduced maintenance charge. E-rickshaw business would be more lucrative once
the price of the battery gets reduced. Currently, customers prefer lead-acid battery-powered
vehicles due to its lower cost but the trend is slowly changing as demand for more expensive
lithium-powered vehicles are gradually picking up pace.

The electric revolution won’t just stop with commercial vehicles, the logistic delivery segment is
also showing their interest because of cost, ease of operation and loading capacity. According to
Mr Amitabh Saran from Altigreen, L5 category (200cc-425cc ICE equivalents) vehicles would
show its grip on the logistics market in the upcoming years. He also added that lithium-ion
powered electric three-wheelers will take its time to show potential once the cost blockade is
reduced and the government should reduce import duties associated with raw materials required
for manufacturing Li-ion batteries since local sourcing is not viable. Electric vehicles are holding
back many surprises that would set the course for future India, it a matter of few years till we get
to see a complete transformation in how we think about modes of transport and their associated
infrastructure.