How close is Delhi to its electric vehicle adoption target

Of every 10 EVs registered, 5.6 are two-wheelers, 3.5 are e-rickshaws and 1 is a car

By Anannya Das, Moushumi Mohanty
Published: Monday 09 January 2023
Delhi witnessed a whopping 141 per cent growth in EV registration in 2021-22. Photo: iStock

Over 16 per cent of vehicles sold in the national capital in December 2022 were electric vehicles (EV), Delhi’s Transport and Environment Minister Kailash Gehlot stated January 5, 2023. Delhiites are open to adopting technology change, he stated. The city’s EV policy has a target of 25 per cent of all new vehicles to be registered as EVs by 2024.

India became the third largest automobile market globally after China and the United States for the first time, news outlets reported January 6, 2023. Sales of new vehicles totalled at least 4.25 million units, exceeding Japan, according to non-profit national body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

The national capital witnessed a whopping 141 per cent growth in EV registration in 2022 compared to 2021. While 16.7 per cent of EVs were registered in December 2022, the cumulative in 2022 adds up to only 10 per cent of all vehicles registered.

Read more: What you need to know for your next hybrid or electric vehicle purchase

Globally, zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) accounted for 13 per cent of total vehicle sales in 2022, according to US-based clean technology website CleanTechnica. In India, ZEV fleet accounted to 4.7 per cent of total vehicles in the same year.

India highlighted its focus on a faster zero-emission transition for two-wheelers and three-wheelers in the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November 2021. Nationally, two-wheelers and three-wheelers constitute about 80 per cent of the vehicles on the road.

In Delhi, 600,000 vehicles were registered in 2022 and of them, 62,000 were EVs. More than half of those EVs (56 per cent or 35,000) were two-wheelers, 35 per cent or 21,000 were three-wheelers and only nine per cent or 5,000 were four-wheelers.

This means that of every 10 EVs registered, 5.6 are two-wheelers, 3.5 are e-rickshaws and one is a car.

ZEV impact on automobile market

The number of EV models grew to 18 by December 2022 from three in 2018-19, according to news website Economic Times Auto.

In the same period, the number of traditional engine cars or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the market has reduced to 136 from 168 models. This is a 20 per cent reduction.

A similar decline was observed earlier when the Government of India-mandated Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) emission standards came into force.

Interestingly, the variety in sport utility vehicle (SUV) models increased to 43 from 41. However, a faster reduction in ICE models from the market will push a competitive market edge for EV models.

In terms of volume, the two-wheeler segment saw the highest adoption, with about 60 per cent of all vehicles registered in Delhi. The registration of two-wheeler EVs increased to 18 per cent in December 2022 from 7-10 per cent in January 2022.

Faster EV transition for three-wheelers, slower for four-wheelers

With the advent of EVs on the road, the e-rickshaw segment saw sprawling growth in both big and small cities. Last year, Delhi witnessed a major shift in the conversion of ICE auto rickshaws to e-auto rickshaws.

In January 2022, the national capital registered 20 per cent of new auto rickshaws as e-auto rickshaws and by December 2022, 60 per cent of new auto rickshaws that were registered were electric ones.

While three-wheelers constitute only 16 per cent of all vehicles in Delhi, this segment has witnessed the highest EV adoption rate.

The transition to EVs was slower for four-wheelers. 

There were 1.8 lakh four-wheelers registered in Delhi in 2022 and 97 per cent of those were for personal usage, while only 3 per cent were commercial four-wheeler cabs. Of these, 3,100 ZEV four-wheelers were registered for personal usage and 2,500 commercial cabs.

Therefore, the EV adoption rate of commercial four-wheelers is observed to be higher than personal vehicles. Of every 10 new commercial four-wheelers, seven are EV and only one out of 10 personal four-wheelers are EV.

Read more: Cycling is ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities

This can be resultant of a policy push for commercial EVs and an increase in electric cab services like Blusmart, Evcabz, Evera, among others.

In Delhi, petrol-run ICE vehicles still continue to dominate this segment with a consistent 89 per cent registration of all four-wheelers. But there has been a relative decline in diesel-run four-wheeler registrations to 5 per cent in December 2022 from 9 per cent in the first few months of 2022.

This market apprehension might emerge from the fact that all EV two-wheeler models are available in the market with a 20-60 per cent increase in price point. For four-wheeler models, it is almost two times the price of an ICE vehicle. Consumers face range anxiety for purchasing an EV and the steep price point adds to the fear.

Charging infrastructure

On a daily basis, a personal vehicle will be used for less than 140 kilometres in Delhi going by vehicle km travelled (vkt). This will be even lesser in smaller cities. This estimate is done keeping Delhi-National Capital Region in mind, which is the largest urban agglomeration.

Therefore, if planned, individual home chargers can fulfil the charging requirement of personal vehicles.

Read more: This World EV Day, electric vehicles have no dearth of takers

However, the commercial and large vehicle segment needs public charging facilities in the city. Of 60,000 EVs in Delhi, almost 40,000 are commercial. As of January 2023, Delhi has about 2,300 public charging stations — both government and privately owned.

Market statistics also reveal that globally, it is the year of SUVs. An investigative assessment conducted by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment on Delhi’s Ring Road highlighted that every minute, there are 90 SUVs on the road in comparison to about 40 smaller four-wheelers.

SUVs globally have the capacity of the carbon footprint of a nation, according to IEA data, British magazine The New Statesman stated in a report in December 2022.

Smaller vehicles like two-wheelers are a part of the city’s congestion problem, but they emit less in comparison to four-wheelers. Therefore, per-capita emissions in cars are higher not only in comparison to public transport and three-wheelers but also for two-wheelers.

This number will be even higher for SUV four-wheelers used for personal usage. Therefore, until strategies result in reducing sales of both diesel and petrol-run SUVs, collectively, we might still be behind in the emission reduction targets.

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