India Has Overtaken China To Become The Biggest Electric 3-Wheeler Market Globally

Indian government’s perseverance, persistent support and enabling policies seems to have finally paid off

India’s effort towards transitioning to e-mobility has paid off — at least in the electric three-wheeler (E3Ws) segment. The country has overtaken China to become the biggest E3W market globally.

The Indian government’s perseverance, persistent support and enabling policies seems to have finally paid off in India, which has now overtaken China to become the biggest market of electric three-wheelers globally, recording a sales figure of over 5,80,000 in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2024.

The Indian government’s financial incentives resulted in reductions in the cost of ownership of electric 3Ws, the report said the sale of these vehicles in India increased by 65% with respect to 2022. One in five three-wheelers sold globally in 2023 was electric, and nearly 60% of those were sold in India, boosted by the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME II) subsidy scheme.

Almost 1 million electric 3Ws were sold in 2023, reflecting 30% growth compared to 2022. The market is highly concentrated, with China and India together accounting for more than 95% of all electric and 80% of conventional 3W sales, it said. Infact, E3W sales in China declined 8% in 2023, to 3,20,000, making the country the second-largest electric 3W market, it added.

The report argues that in 2023 in India, despite the upfront price being 55% higher than for its gasoline equivalent, the average electric 3W model (auto-rickshaw) is more than 50% cheaper to own after 8 years of service, and even without subsidies is over 40% cheaper.

As far as electric cars are concerned they continue to make progress towards becoming a mass-market product in a larger number of countries. Tight margins, volatile battery metal prices, high inflation, and the phase-out of purchase incentives in some countries have sparked concerns about the industry’s pace of growth, but global sales data remain strong.

Growth expectations for 2024 build on a record year: in 2023, global sales of electric cars neared 14 million, reaching 18% of all cars sold. This is up from 14% in 2022. Electric car sales in 2023 were 3.5 million higher than in 2022, a 35% year-on-year increase. This indicates robust growth even as many major markets enter a new phase, with uptake shifting from early adopters to the mass market. Over 250 000 electric cars were sold every week last year, more than the number sold in a year just a decade ago.

Given the high EV penetration numbers that India is projected to achieve in the coming years, this transition will impacts the business, increase the need for a skilled workforce and affect India’s growth story.

The writer of this article is Dr. Seema Javed, an environmentalist & a communications professional in the field of climate and energy

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