Depending on how one looks at it, the performance of the Indian electric vehicle (EV) market will look hopeful or otherwise. The sales volume of 56,000 units during 2017-18 is a 124 percent jump over the previous year's figure of 25,000. But it pales against the sales figures of 20 million conventional two-wheelers and 3 million cars during the same period.
The silver lining in this story is the growth of electric two-wheelers. Electric cars saw a 40 percent dip in sales volume during the last financial year, while two-wheelers clocked a 138 percent growth with sales of 54,800 units.
It is this growth what Hero Electric, the segment leader, is bullish about. "The market may touch 75,000 units during this financial year and may double the next year with the existing level of government support," says Sohinder Singh Gill, CEO, Hero Electric and director, corporate affairs, SMEV (Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles).
Sohinder Singh Gill: "The market may touch 75,000 units during this financial year and may double the next year with the existing level of government support."
Product improvement and introduction of lithium-ion technology have helped electric two-wheelers earn customer confidence. Hero recently launched a new model, the Optima at around Rs 65,000, to tap the growing demand. It sits just below the flagship model Photon, which sells for around Rs 85,000. Hero Electric plans to sell 40,000 electric two-wheelers during the current financial year, as compared to 31,000 green units last year.
Hero Electric has a market share of over nearly 60 percent. The withdrawal of incentives, from October 1, for two-wheelers with low speed (up to 25kph) and lead acid batteries, which many competitors sold in the market, also helped Hero's market performance, as it has already shifted to lithium-ion technology.
Even as Gill expects a good jump in the electric two-wheeler market this year, there's still some time for Hero Electric to break even. "It should happen in FY2020," says Gill. If the market performs as projected, electric two-wheelers will cross the 100,000 unit mark during that year.