With half a dozen confirmed electric car launches, commercial vehicle (CV) players moving ahead with electric buses and trucks, and over two dozen electric two-wheeler and three-wheeler launches, 2023 is going to be a significant year for electric mobility in India.
Electric car launches confirmed for calendar year 2023 are Hyundai Ioniq 5, Citroën ëC3, MG Air EV, Skoda Enyaq, Tata Punch EV (and the Altroz EV in FY24), and Mahindra XUV400.
“I think 2023 will be a breakthrough year for electric cars,” Vivek Srivatsa, head, marketing, sales & service strategy, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, told FE. “In 2022, electric car sales volumes touched over 5,000 units per month, of which Tata Motors did more than 4,000 units. Now, with the market availability of the Tiago EV (India’s most affordable electric car priced `8.49 lakh onwards), electric car sales can reach fairly large numbers this year.”
As far as CVs are concerned, at the Auto Expo 2023 (January 13-18), all CV players will showcase electrified technologies, including hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
Tata Motors — which won the Delhi Transport Corporation’s order for 1,500 electric buses in December (and has a cumulative order book of a little over 5,000 electric buses from state transport undertakings) — will showcase electric as well as FCEV technologies at the Auto Expo. Girish Wagh, executive director, Tata Motors, recently told FE that while for short-distance travel (less than 500 km) battery EVs make more sense — it launched the Ace EV last year — for CVs that need to be driven beyond 500 km, FCEV is the right technology. Tata Motors already has FCEV buses, and will supply 15 such buses to Indian Oil this year.
Switch Mobility (EV arm of Ashok Leyland) and VECV will also launch electric buses in 2023. Jupiter Electric Mobility, a subsidiary of Jupiter Wagons, will launch two electric LCVs at the Auto Expo (a 2.2-tonne LCV and a 7-tonne LCV).
But the biggest EV onslaught will come from two-wheeler and three-wheeler start-ups, who will launch over two dozen EVs in India this year, even as automotive analysts are cautiously optimistic on such plans.
“Rising Covid-19 cases in China might prove to be a black swan event for some Indian EV players,” said an analyst on condition of anonymity, adding, “Most EV components, directly or indirectly, come from China.”
Electric car players, however, seem unperturbed as of now. “Our plans are on line,” Tarun Garg, director, sales, marketing & service, Hyundai Motor India, told FE, on the possible disruption in the EV parts supply chain.
But even though 2023 is expected to be a breakthrough year for EVs, India has a long way to go in achieving the aspiration of targeted EVs on the road. “Adoption will happen gradually over the next few years,” Rajat Mahajan, partner, Deloitte India, told FE. “While we will see significant launches across the EV spectrum in the next two-three years, the vehicle cost will remain high due to high battery costs. Customer anxiety over range and limited charging infrastructure are other challenges. EVs will take off if government policies remain consistent and technology advancements progress at a faster pace over the next four-five years.”
Saket Mehra, partner & auto sector leader at Grant Thornton Bharat, added that even though the gaps hindering EV adoption in India are materially reducing — electric car sales registered 268% year-on-year growth to cross 18,000 units in H1FY23 — the market is likely to witness unprecedented disruption only by 2024-25, and not immediately.