Electric rickshaws


Chaotic, smelly, loud – those who have the courage to take to the streets in India’s capital New Delhi with 17 million inhabitants quickly reach their limits – coughing, burning eyes, irritated mucous membranes. The megacity with over a million vehicles is literally choking on traffic and most Indian cities are in no way inferior. Since even politicians cannot escape the life-shortening air pollution of an estimated 12 years, there is now finally an ambitious plan of action. The declared aim of the Indian governmentit is to replace diesel and gasoline transport with e-mobility as quickly as possible. The government’s own think tank, Niti Ayog, is setting the ambitious pace. The action program, called FAMEII for short (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles), plans to convert 30% of all private vehicles and 80% of all public transport vehicles to batteries by 2030 – across India. To understand how gigantic this project is, a look at India’s streets helps. There are almost no battery-operated cars. The production of e-mobiles is so far only a small niche in the entire car market. However, for heavyweight players like Toyota, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindar & Mahindar or Tata Motors, falling sales figures are not encouraging so far. A total of 1200 e-vehicles were purchased in 2018, 40 percent less than in the previous year. The Indian consumer is not solely to blame for the low sales figures. Anyone who has ever driven silently through India’s traffic chaos, past Indian cows and trucks hissing exhaust gases in a luxury-equipped e-model would like to switch to an environmentally friendly e-vehicle. Advance law one can afford it.

The vehicles are still extremely expensive . One of the most popular models from the leading e rickshaw manufacturers in india Mahindra & Mahindra, the Mahindra E-Verito costs over 170,000 euros, more expensive than the new BMW E8. The lithium-ion batteries, which make up 50% of the purchase price, are responsible for the high price. India imports them mainly from abroad, especially China.

For the rich and super-rich, the money factor is unlikely to play a role. Their Porsches, Jaguars and Bentlies park in front of expensive gourmet restaurants. So why not an electric car. They describe the biggest brake on sales as the lack of a functioning infrastructure for charging stations. In India’s big cities, which, like Delhi, stretch for more than 40 km, an e-mobility of a maximum of 25 km is counterproductive.

The new FAME II action plan aims to change the situation. With a budget of 1.4 billion, it wants to bring manufacturers and customers to the e-taste through subsidies such as comprehensive infrastructure for charging stations and tax cuts. The auto industry welcomes the initiative. She sees it as the right signal to finally be able to take off, even though the focus of the package is not on the production of e-cars, but primarily on e-scooters and motorcycles as well as the public transport system.

Expressed in numbers : One million e-scooters and motorcycles, 500,000 e-rikashas and 7,000 buses are expected to roll on India’s streets in the next three years. A look at China, the ore competitor, which has been massively promoting e-mobility for over a decade and yet was not able to convert more than 20% of its traffic to e-vehicles, puts India’s ambitious plans into perspective.

The goal is set too high , the budget is too low, criticizes the investment house Goldberg and Sachs. If the government plan is to take effect, according to the company, it would need $ 4 billion for numerous customer incentives alone, such as tax reductions and purchase subsidies not to make battery production dependent on China, the world’s largest lithium owner, 7 billion and a full 6 billion in order to set up a functioning infrastructure of charging stations.

India, known as a land of exotic specialties, surprises even in the area of ​​e-mobility. To understand why the government is relying so heavily on e-mobility in the two-three-wheel sector, a look at an Indian traffic phenomenon helps. Not even 20 percent of all Indians have their own vehicle. Anyone who has made it to the lower middle class through hard work first buys a scooter or motorcycle. In the country he uses it to transport the family of five to wedding celebrations or sometimes a sheep to the market. Estimates expect close to 200 million new buyers by 2023. This is exactly where the huge opportunity lies to bring the new e-technology to men and women across the board.

But something is also moving in the luxury sector. The startup Ather wants to conquer the e-scooter sector for a broad, young, modern big city audience. Your latest model, the Ather 340, has the potential to do so. At a speed of 85km, the streamlined, modern design whizzes through Mumbai’s streets with a sensational battery life of 75km. A touchscreen shows the battery consumption and navigates to the company’s own charging stations in cafes and shops.

In order to increase the flexibility of the scooter, the company Sun Mobility is investing in exchangeable charging stations. It takes less than 5 minutes. As with luggage storage, the old battery is put in a compartment and the new, fully charged battery is pulled out. Only the electricity consumed is paid for. Both innovative models can be found in Mumbai.


The introduction of electric tricycles in Indian cities is already a success story. Since the approval of the three-wheeled e-rickshaw in 2014, the army of lead-battery operated rickshaws has grown enormously. Intended for short distances of 2-3km, 2 million e-rickshaws are already buzzing through the streets of Indian cities like dragonflies. In Delhi alone there are 100,000 and growing. Not only are they easy to drive, they offer an environmentally friendly alternative to the gas-powered auto rikashas (known as tuk tuk for travelers to Asia), they also make it easy to get into a regular job. You can afford the financing of the 1.5 lakh vehicles. But without state subsidies of around 500 euros in start-up capital, the rest is either financed by mostly bank loans, nothing works here either.

The absence of charging stations is also an enormous problem here.

Even if there are initial difficulties in implementing India’s e-mobility and the deadline overshoots the possible goal, the beginning is done.