Will Electric Scooter Startups Thrive in India Ahead of PM Modi’s Net Zero Pledge?

Will PM Modi's pledge of achieving Net-Zero be a fillip to electric scooter startups?.


In the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged an ambitious goal for India to become net-zero or carbon neutral by 2070. Going carbon neutral means not adding to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

The pledge although it received mixed reactions from various researchers and environmentalists regarding its feasibility, but is necessary to combat the pollution menace and minimise the country’s dependence on crude oil imports. According to the University of Chicago’s Air Quality Life Index, India is the most polluted country in the world, with more than 480 million people living in the Indo-Gangetic plains, where pollution levels are higher than anyone else in the world. 

The two-wheeler pollution menace 

It might seem like the four-wheelers, but the choked roads of India have nudged the metro city residents to own two-wheelers that contribute to maximum pollution. Moreover, owning two-wheelers in small towns and semi-urban areas is an aspiration. Also, what has fuelled the two-wheeler purchase is its gearless feature that has allowed more women to commute independently. 

Two-thirds of pollution in major Indian cities are caused due to two-wheelers that release 30 percent of the particular matter load which is 10 percent more than the cars. This heavily calls for the need for electric scooters in India. But, is India ready to embrace them on its roads? 

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According to the University of Chicago’s Air Quality Life Index, India is the most polluted country in the world.

The challenges to owning an electric scooter in India 

Before, electric scooter startups launch their vehicles they need to think upon the below challenges – 

  • Inadequate refuelling stations for electric vehicles

Unlike petrol and diesel vehicles, currently, India lacks recharging points for electric scooters or vehicles. Also, with regular usage, the performance of these vehicles tends to deteriorate that requires frequent charging. 

  • The range dilemma 

In a single charge, how many kilometers can an electric vehicle go? As with continuous usage, the battery performance lowers down eventually impacting the number of kilometres it can go within a single charge. Also, carrying a co-passenger behind reduces the distance it can travel at once. 

  • More service stations 

Although electric vehicles are built with lesser complexities that certainly does not mean they will never require a service station. There is a chance for electric vehicles to have short circuits. Therefore, electric vehicle startups should need to build an adequate number of service stations.

The price-conscious Indian

With petrol and diesel prices crossing the century, will the Indian consumers make the switch to an electric scooter? Although the government is pushing domestic manufacturing by incentivising local production, an Indian consumer is sceptical about the shift. A price-conscious Indian consumer is worried about the electric scooters built with cutting-edge technologies such as high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, sophisticated parts that will eventually make it expensive than a fuel scooter and higher will be the amount required for its insurance value. 

What lies ahead for the electric scooter startups in India? 

A scooter equipped with cutting edge technologies will indeed be expensive than a conventional fuel vehicle but the government’s launch of incentives towards manufacturing and increased availability of essential components through suppliers, are helping EV manufacturers to produce affordable electric vehicle scooters in India. 

In addition to pushing domestic production, under the ‘Make in India’ initiative India is also scaling up its domestic lithium-ion battery manufacturing which comprises the most cost of an EV and aspires to become the hub of battery manufacturing. Also, there is an increased interest of foreign investors to fund electric scooter startups in India. Such initiatives from the government and funding interests from the investors are painting a promising future for providing affordable EV solutions for Indians that will have a lower cost than compared to fuel-driven vehicles.

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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