Will India Become Home to Hundreds of Thousands of Electric Vehicles?

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 4

The India-based Reva has had high hopes, but not much success

The India-based Reva has had high hopes, but not much success

If India were to get into the electric vehicle race, then the possibility of tens of thousands of additional plug-in sales annually on the global level would be realized.  Over the next decade or so, hundreds of thousands of additional electrics could be on the world’s roads if India came on-board.

Mahindra Reva Electric e20 is Only Mass-Produced 4-Wheel Electric Currently Sold in India

Mahindra Reva Electric e20 is Only Mass-Produced 4-Wheel Electric Currently Sold in India

There are a lot of “ifs” there, but no promises.

India is a target market for electric vehicles, but the nation’s reluctance to promote them and to encourage EV adoption is holding electrics back.

Currently, Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles is the only automaker with a mass-produced electric available in India.  It’s a four-seat hatchback called the Reva e20 and its priced just a hair over its direct gas competitors.

But still, Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles expects to only sell 400 to 500 electric vehicles per month in all of India.

Pawan Goenka, president of automotive and farm equipment sectors at Mahindra Reva Electric Vehicles, states:

“We have invested significantly in this project only because there’s a demand. We hope to sell 400 to 500 EVs a month and Delhi will be the biggest market with an anticipated 150 to 200 unit sales every month.”

Demand?  400 to 500 a month doesn’t seem like much demand to us.

Mahindra Reva sees a brighter future ahead.  Much like Nissan did with the LEAF, Mahindra Reva is trying to get the first-to-market advantage.  So, sales today may be low, but Mahindra Reva predicts a boom in the near future.  By 2017, Mahindra Reva expects approximately 5% of all vehicles sold in India to be electric.  That amounts to 175,000 electrics per year.

Surely that’s an optimistic mark, but India’s passenger vehicle market is huge at 3.5 million units annually.  It’s not US or China huge, but it’s a big market to dabble in.

Mahindra Reva has enough production capacity at this moment to pump out 30,000 electric vehicles per year and it’s ready to use that volume when demand requires.

All of the other automakers who have expressed interest in launching an electric vehicle in India have yet to firm up any plans.  This list includes Hyundai, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, Chevrolet and BMW.

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4 responses to "Will India Become Home to Hundreds of Thousands of Electric Vehicles?"

  1. pjwood says:

    When India had its major blackout, about a year ago affecting about 600 million (more than the US pop), I think it was a Bloomberg story that pointed out the country only has enough generation for about 93% of its peak electricity demand; demand that’s growing with an appetite for air-conditioning. Versus rates in the US, of roughly 112-130% (NERC, or FERC regulated, I think) you can start to see the problem. They use a lot of oil, too, because its easier to buy and run small generators. Just not cheaper, which is why solar DG….and so on. It’s these dynamics that also help predict global EV adoption.

    1. KenZ says:

      Good points. Thoughts on short and long term effects on small EV adoption? Obviously an unstable grid COULD have negative impact (well, it certainly can’t help), but if the people who can afford a car also have a backup generator… curious to see where you think it’ll shake out.

    2. Suprise Cat says:

      India has enough generation capacity for slow overnight charging of million of EVs.
      Quick charging will be a general problem in all countries with 3rd world level power grid.

      1. pjwood says:

        I agree. 93% vs. ~120% are both “peak” stats. Off-peak, overnight charging won’t get to “peak” levels, by definition. It’s more an indication of growth in the country, and the reliability many have yet to see. I don’t know mix stats, for India, but have generally heard that where regions gets more “third world”, you find more diesel. This is where distributed grid, or even micro-grid, economics actually work better, by displacing a very expensive electric fuel. In the end, I don’t know. Even light vehicles would need significant time attached to an array. Maybe not bikes and scooters. Grid price/mile & Oil price/mile dynamics in India are still the place to start.