How shared mobility can catalyse 100 percent EV adoption in India

India’s shared mobility market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 56.8 percent by 2025 and this growth can serve as the catalyst for electrifying our fleets.
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India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Currently, there are about 300 million petrol and diesel vehicles on our roads, with an estimated annual addition of 30 million each year. If this growth rate persists or escalates (which it would), then our nation will witness the exacerbation of two major challenges it is already grappling with—congestion and the inflating carbon footprint.

We are home to the four most congested cities in the world and we rank third in the list of countries with the largest carbon footprint.

Having foreseen these grave environmental perils, the Indian government is on a mission to grow responsibly. In 2015, we signed the Paris Agreement alongside 195 other countries to tackle climate change. As the soon-to-be most populous country in the world, this is a critical opportunity for us to redefine our mobility system and explore sustainable and convenient mediums of public and private transportation that deliver last-mile connectivity.

A sure-fire way to achieve this feat is by halting the manufacture of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and electrifying our new fleets.

With the central and state governments fervently endorsing this shift, electric vehicles (EVs) have garnered popularity over the last five years. In April 2019, the three-year FAME II scheme was introduced to give EV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) the right push in terms of buyer subsidies, to be at par with their ICE counterparts. At present, 13 states in India have either notified or approved dedicated EV policies.

Though promising, India’s nascent EV movement requires a steadfast enabler to unleash its true potential. The 100 percent transition that India is aiming for in another few decades will be possible only if EVs are made accessible to the 1.36 billion people in the country at affordable rates.

The Indian shared mobility market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 56.8 percent by 2025 and this growth can serve as the catalyst for electrifying our fleets.

Here are three ways shared mobility can help realise India’s EV ambition:

Higher Utilisation at a Lower Cost

There are multiple mental barriers that pull people back from shifting to an EV, including range anxiety, the assumption that EVs take hours to recharge, and that they are expensive compared to fuel-powered vehicles. But the latest EVs in the market are designed to tackle all of these pain points.

Reliable range

The latest electric cars in the Indian market offer a range between 306-484 km and e-scooters promise about 80-236 km range per charge, which is more than sufficient for an average daily commuter.

Cost-effectiveness

In fact, once a user gets accustomed to an EV, they will realise that the cost per kilometre is 3-10 and 4-5 times lower for two-wheelers and four-wheelers respectively, compared to fuel-driven vehicles, given that the petrol cost is ₹100 and electricity rate is ₹10 per unit.

Cutting-edge charging infrastructure

Emerging technologies like battery swapping can not only enhance the user experience but also extend a larger playground for shared e-mobility players to penetrate the market.

Battery swapping stations may soon be as prominent as petrol stations; until then, shared mobility players will have the upper hand to experiment with this technology and augment their services.

Smart utilisation

Shared e-mobility will not only ensure higher utilisation of assets at lower costs but also smarter utilisation. It could serve as the answer to our roads being overrun by delivery personnel. Ever since the pandemic, our cities have experienced an ecommerce boom.

A major chunk of the traffic comprises delivery boys because around 50 percent of our current user base is made up of gig workers. Shifting to e-scooters will help reduce their carbon footprint (they travel close to 70-100 km a day) and ensure that fuel prices don’t eat up half of their income.

Through shared mobility, commuters can unlock a user-friendly platform to experiment with EVs and experience their advantages first-hand.

As more ride-hailing and vehicle rental players embrace e-mobility, consumers will have the power to choose from multiple shared and sustainable commute options, thus drastically reducing the dependency on personal vehicles.

The diminishing concept of ownership

As per the ICE 360° survey conducted in 2016, majority of households still own a bicycle, half households own a two-wheeler, and only 11 percent own a car. In 2018, car ownership was limited to 30 vehicles for every thousand Indians, a proportion too small compared to our population. In 2019, two-wheelers made up for about 75 percent of the total fleet operational in India.

But the customer psyche and preferences are forever evolving.

As of September 2021, many major two-wheeler and four-wheeler brands in India have witnessed a dip in their sales. This decline could be attributed to multiple variables, including the pandemic, inflation, rocketing fuel prices, and climate change.

Over the last five years, we have witnessed a steady shift from two-wheeler ownership to usership. The modern commuter is not hung up on the idea of owning a personal vehicle. Instead of getting tangled with EMIs and maintenance charges, they prefer to hail or rent vehicles on a need basis.

That’s also why Bangalore is not just one of the most congested cities in the world but also the world leader in scooter-sharing, closely followed by Hyderabad.

As many vehicle-rental players are moving towards the subscription model, commuters now have the option to rent vehicles for longer periods without having to share them with anyone. Imagine the impact these shared scooter fleets alone can make if they go electric!

Educational and corporate giants can also adopt the shared micromobility hub model to navigate within their vast campuses.

If executed efficiently, these local shared mobility fleets (be it two-wheelers or three-wheelers) can connect people to metro and bus stations, magnifying the potential to dissolve vehicle ownership for good.

Enhanced experience via connectivity

Shared e-mobility can truly disrupt only with the help of digitisation, which is where connectivity and automation come in.

Today, the world ticks to the rhythm of the Internet of Things (IoT). With the right technology, every vehicle on the road can become part of real-time information networks that can help commuters and city planners to enhance rider experience and prevent accidents. IoT integration can put forward endless possibilities to make mobility safe and seamless through real-time GPS location tracking, vehicle vitals detection, and risk profile analysis.

With shared mobility players functioning as early adopters, daily commuters will get a chance to familiarise themselves with such new technologies. Though more consumers are considering buying an EV, they are still on the fence when it comes to actually betting their money on it. This is exactly where shared e-mobility, especially vehicle rentals, can help bridge the gap.

It may seem distant, but e-mobility is definitely the future we are heading towards. How we get there and how fast we get there primarily depend on the government, OEMs, and shared mobility players slotting in and taking the lead to plan, promote, and execute the way forward.

India’s 2030 vision as identified by NITI Aayog aims for 80 percent two-wheelers, 30 percent private cars and 70 percent commercial vehicles purchased to be electric.

But according to the Global EV Outlook 2021 predictions, EV sales across all modes in India will just be 30 percent within the next decade. As vital it is for us to aim high, it is equally important that we keep our targets time-bound and attainable.

With the right moves, there is no doubt that we can surpass this prediction. We are already on the right track—EV sales crossed the 2 percent mark for the very first time in August 2021, marking a new milestone in the history of India’s automobile sales.

Changes are already taking root in Karnataka, with the state government extending a 15 percent capital subsidy on fixed assets to manufacturers and zero road tax and registration fee to the consumers. Other states have also put forward numerous incentives to urge investors, manufacturers, and consumers to take the leap.

The need of the hour is for us to maintain this momentum and steadily ramp us with:

  1. The government and OEMs extending continued incentives and programmes to help spread awareness and accelerate EV adoption
  2. Shared mobility providers propelling EVs to the masses by making them accessible and affordable.

Our nation is at the threshold of a momentous change that could alter the course of our future—let’s share the responsibility of driving it to the finishing line.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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