May , 2023
Electric three-wheeler market to grow in India
17:37 pm

Saptarshi Deb

Saera Electric Auto Pvt. Ltd. (SEAPL) is one of the leading companies in the electric vehicle sector. SEAPL was the first company to introduce the e-rickshaw in India and the first to receive ICAT (Vehicle Approval Certificate). BE’s Saptarshi Deb spoke to Nitin Kapoor, Managing Director of Saera Electric Auto Private Limited.

Q How do you evaluate the e-vehicle market in India?

A. The Indian EV market has been experiencing substantial growth on a YOY basis.  The two major segments driving this growth are electric two-wheelers and electric three wheelers - both segments grew by 188 % and 119 % YOY basis in the last FY 22-23 with seven lakhs plus Electric 2 wheelers and 4 lakhs electric three wheelers got registered in the country in FY 22-23.
Inflating prices of petrol represents one of the major factors driving the sales of EVs. Moreover, the Government of India is promoting the use of EVs to promote sustainable development and reduce air pollution. It also includes EVs in public transport to improve air quality and minimize the dependence of the country on fossil fuels. We are also witnessing improvement overall in the ecosystem in the country with an advanced battery management system, improved charging infrastructure and battery swapping as an alternative to owners of EVs - both 2 and 3-wheelers.
Q. As you are operating primarily in the electric three-wheeler/two-wheeler segment, how do you evaluate those segments?

A. The Electric three-wheeler segment is growing quite rapidly - currently more than 400 OEM have registered in the Vahan portal to manufacture these vehicles and more than 45 companies are registered under Fame Subsidy. The last mile connectivity is now penetrating not only to Tier 1 but the major thrust is now coming from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities also and we expect this to further expand on a YoY basis. As part of India’s Electric Mission 2030, more than 80% penetration is being targeted in Electric 3-wheelers. We have already seen the penetration of total three-wheelers sold in the country has reached more than 50 % in the last FY 22-23.  

Q. Manufacturing e-vehicles had been an issue in the Indian markets as many parts had to be sourced from the international market. How has been your experience as a manufacturer of e-rickshaws?

A. The supply chain ecosystem is still going through a transition. Dependence on imports largely from China is still prevalent. As an OEM we have worked extensively towards indigenization.

Q. Please take us through your growth journey. What are your expansion plans?

A. We started our journey in 2011. During that time the ecosystem for Electric Three wheelers was non-existent. We had to develop many things from scratch. Even financing was unavailable for these vehicles as there was no government policy. We had to liaise with the government and ensure proper policy was implemented and these vehicles then came under the Motor Vehicle Act. Things have further improved with wider acceptance of these vehicles and need to improve last mile connectivity not just for Tier 1 cities but across all Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well. Mayuri Electric Rickshaw and Mayuri Electric Loaders are one of the leading Brands in the L3 segment. We have recently entered a new segment of electric golf carts; we will be launching high-speed electric 3 wheelers and high-speed electric two-wheeler also in this FY.

Q. What sort of government policies can promote the market of e-rickshaws? Is there any need for protectionist policies from international competitors?

A. The government has already rolled out Fame 2 and in this FY (23-24) `5172 Cr has been allocated to promote EVs in the country. Currently, we are getting subsidies on Lithium battery operated electric e-rickshaws and import duty on battery cells has been further relaxed. However, for lithium cells, we are largely dependent on imports - largely from China. We recommend that the benefit must directly go to the end user. Currently, it is routed through the manufacturer. Similarly, many of the major state governments are also providing state benefits on EVs to customers which is further encouraging the adoption of EVs. We welcome any move by the government which will further boost the ecosystem in the country for faster adoption and want PLI schemes on EVs to be expanded to promote Make in India initiatives for the industry to grow locally.

Q. Please take us through your product portfolio and which are your offerings with maximum market traction.

A.We are currently offering multiple product offerings in electric rickshaws with different configurations and types of batteries - both in lead as well as lithium batteries. We also provide customers with E-Carts which are popularly known as loaders. In that variety, we offer close-body as well as open-body loaders which are now attractive alternatives for moving goods within cities. We have also introduced electric golf carts in both the passenger segment as well as the utility segment. 

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