Electric cars being charged in a street. Photo: iStock
Electric cars being charged. Photo: iStock

India’s electric vehicle sales have almost tripled, mainly driven by motorcycles, according to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations. Sales are nearly 2.5 times higher than in the pre-Covid period.

The overall retail sales of electric vehicles in the country for the financial year 2021-22 was 429,217 units, up from 134,821 in 2020-21. In the preceding pre-Covid financial year 2019-20, it was comparatively higher at 168,300 units.

The automobile retail body collated data from 1,397 of the total 1,605 regional transport offices in the country.

However, it should be noted that a major chunk of electric vehicle sales came from the two- and three-wheeler segments, while passenger cars made up a little more than 4% of overall sales. In 2021-22, 17,802 passenger cars were sold, more than three times the 4,984 units in the preceding financial year.

Tata Motors led this segment by selling four of every five cars. In 2021-22, the auto unit of the salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group sold 15,198 units and garnered a market share of 85.37%. In the preceding year, it had sold 3,523 units.

MG Motor India, a subsidiary of Chinese automotive manufacturer SAIC Motor, came a distant second and sold 2,045 units last fiscal year, for a market share of 11.49%. Third and fourth places were taken up by Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai Motor India, with 156 and 128 units respectively.

Interestingly, Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Indian unit Maruti Suzuki India is yet to enter the electric vehicle segment. It is likely to roll out electric vehicles by 2025, and its Japanese parent has announced it would invest 104 billion rupees (US$1.37 billion) in electric vehicles and battery manufacturing in India.

The low intake of electric passenger cars is attributed to the higher price tags compared with gasoline or diesel cars. Another deterrent is the patchy charging infrastructure, especially on highways.

Electric motorcycle retail sales jumped more than five-fold last fiscal year and stood at 231,338 units, as against 41,046 units in 2020-21. Hero Electric led the segment with sales of 65,303 units, grabbing a 28.23% share in the domestic market.

It was followed by Okinawa Autotech, which sold 46,447 units last fiscal year. Third place was taken by Ampere Vehicles with sales of 24,648 units. Hero MotoCorp-backed Ather Energy stood in fourth position with the registration of 19,971 units in 2021-22.

Ride-hailing major Ola’s electric two-wheeler unit Ola Electric sold 14,371 units and was in sixth position.

Since scooters are used for short-haul rides, they don’t need an elaborate charging ecosystem. Apart from selling to individual buyers, e-scooter makers are also tapping into logistics and e-commerce companies that use motorcycles for last-mile deliveries.

Hero Electric has partnered with Shadowfax Technologies, a crowdsourced platform for last-mile delivery, to supply e-scooters. Shadowfax Technologies aims to convert 75% of its fleet to electric vehicles by 2024.

Electric three-wheeler sales last fiscal year stood at 177,874 units, registering a two-fold increase over 88,391 units in the preceding year. These vehicles are extensively used by online grocery firms such as BigBasket, Amazon and Flipkart.

BigBasket is aiming to turn 90% of its existing fleet into electric vehicles. However, these companies claim there are not many players in this segment and there is a dearth of supply. This segment is dominated by Mahindra & Mahindra’s Treo Zor.

Electric commercial vehicle sales rose to 2,203 units last financial year, compared with 400 units in 2021.