A key development in recent times has been the turnaround in consumer sentiment in rural markets, pushing demand for electric two-wheelers
Global environmental consciousness has sparked a transformative phase, and electric two-wheeler adoption has surged dramatically. In India, between 2021 and 2023, an estimated 6,70,000 Electric two-wheelers were registered, with the segment expanding three-fold in FY 2022-2023. Today, India has approximately 1.4 million registered electric two-wheelers, highlighting a growing acceptance among consumers in the Indian market.
A key development in recent times has been the turnaround in consumer sentiment in rural markets, pushing demand for electric two-wheelers. The higher running costs of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, subsidised power, homegrown innovation, engineering, and manufacturing, combined with strong government support and myriad other factors have led to people in rural areas embracing the trend of owning two-wheeler EVs. This remarkable uptick in the rural and semi-urban areas is poised to bring about a substantial positive impact.
Fig 1: Hyder Khan
To ensure inclusive growth, it is imperative that economic advancement benefits everyone, including members of marginalised and underprivileged communities. Increasing EV adoption in rural India has the potential to democratise access to clean and affordable transportation. When it comes to costs, e-scooters are more affordable and require low maintenance. This addresses a major concern in rural areas where incomes are often limited. The low operational costs make electric two-wheelers an attractive option for local entrepreneurs, promoting micro-mobility businesses and last-mile deliveries. Furthermore, EV adoption empowers women to access work and education beyond their immediate surroundings, which further promotes an equal and more prosperous society.
Atmospheric pollution in rural India can be largely attributed to transportation and the power sector, and rural areas often bear the brunt of pollution caused by traditional two-wheelers. With zero tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles can potentially reduce air pollution and improve the overall health of local communities. The adoption of EVs can thus prove to be a sustainable choice for regions where environmental preservation is vital and can result in reduced respiratory and cardiovascular health issues, further leading to reduced healthcare costs.
An Ecosystem Of Employment Opportunities
As India’s EV ecosystem grows, it creates new job opportunities for rural communities. New income sources can be generated by small businesses, landowners, and households through establishing public EV charging stations. Manufacturing, maintenance, and sales, which form a part of EV-related businesses, present opportunities to generate additional employment across various skill levels.
Fig 2: People riding e-scooters: Image Credits OLA Electric
Rural development has often been hindered by a lack of transportation access, especially for areas on the periphery of Indian villages that remain remote and marginalised. In such regions, access to petrol can be unreliable, and nearly half of the rural population is forced to walk for work and education due to high fuel costs. Electric two-wheelers provide an alternative that is independent of fossil fuels and can be charged using solar power, in turn reducing costs and increasing energy security. Moreover, improved mobility can bridge communities and foster regional socio-economic development.
The interests in electric two-wheelers are rising, as India’s EV market continues to grow and evolve. However, there is a long road ahead, and several challenges persist in the journey to electrify mobility, such as limited access to financial and technological resources, scarcity of charging infrastructure, and a lack of awareness of the benefits of owning electric vehicles. Policy formulation is an evolving process, and India’s two-wheeler EV policy has the potential to transform India to become a global leader. Meanwhile, unlocking the full potential of India’s EV ecosystem will be crucial, which not only promises a greener future but one that is prosperous and equitable for all.
Hyder Khan is the CEO of Godawari Electric Motors