Impact of COVID-19 on India’s e-Rickshaw Market, 2024/25 – The Pandemic’s Influence on Demand Trajectory


The report aims to provide an objective view on the realistic demand for e-Rickshaws over the next 5-6 years and how COVID-19 is likely to dent the demand trajectory. The report will also outline the opportunity that component manufacturers have for catering to the demand for battery and traction motors.

With over 2 million infected worldwide, the COVID-19 contagion continues to wreak havoc across all major developed and developing economy except China.

The complete shutdown of economic activity in India over a period of 40 days between March till early May, is expected to shave off 6-7% of the total GDP pie and in the event of a prolonged shutdown, the economy is likely to see worse contraction ever seen in history. Rating Agencies and Multilaterals have already painted a grim picture on India’s economy and are expecting growth to be in the range of 1-2% in FY20-21. As the Government gears up to follow a calibrated approach to resuming normalcy, Industry is a worried lot as the trinity of Man, Material and Machine, topped up by Time is under severe strain.

COVID-19 has led to both demand and supply shock at the same time and has led to significant disruption of the supply chain. As the contagion triggered reverse migration, getting labour back to factory is not going to be easy. COVID-19 has a devastating effect on oil prices that are at never before seen record low prices. Oil prices & derailment of the economy from growth path are expected to dent the prospects of faster adoption of electric vehicles in India.

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The transportation sector has been one of the primary victims of COVID-19. From rickshaw pullers to airlines, all have been affected economically by the pandemic. So, how till it impact e-rickshaw segment is the key question to be asked. E-rickshaw demand may or may not be hit but the e-rickshaw driver’s availability constraint may impact the near term demand.

Beginning from human-powered cycle rickshaws to auto-rickshaws, the era is now drifting towards most recent modification E-Rickshaws. These battery-operated three-wheelers are undoubtedly an integral part of transport eco-system in entire Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Dehradun, Udaipur, Indore, Patna, Bhagalpur, Ranchi. E-Rickshaws dovetail beautifully as the last mile public conveyance with zero pollution in this entire equation. E-Rickshaws approved by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways have a maximum width of 1 metre and a maximum length of 2.8 meters and are permitted to carry four passengers.

As per a report of Centre of Civil Society (CCS), the number of E-Rickshaws has risen from 4000 in 2010 to more than 1 Lakh, but a large percentage of such vehicles are still unregistered. There are only 29,123 registered E-Rickshaws from April 2013 to March 2017 as per Delhi government records. Urbanization is at its peak in India. The introduction of Metro in the last decade has made commuting easier for longer distances.

However, E-Rickshaw can provide last mile connectivity and hence buoyed by the success of E-Rickshaw service in Noida and Ghaziabad, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) extended the service to commuters in the national capital. The specially designed E-Rickshaws with covered cabin and full front windscreen will provide the last mile connectivity within an area of 3-4 KM around Metro stations. They are also enabled with CCTV and GPS availability. The facility of E-Rickshaws at the stations in Gurugram and Faridabad will also get operational very shortly by another operator. On successful implementation of the E-Rickshaw services in the NCR region, services on similar format would be replicated in Delhi subject to the feasibility.

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According to the consulting form, A.T. Kearney, around 11,000 new E-Rickshaws are sold on a monthly basis in the country. The opportunity is so big that many start-ups are venturing into this space. SmartE, a ride-hailing service that employs over 800 E-Rickshaws around New Delhi, believes when looking at electric mobility, the focus should be on whether the government is enabling products that are designed for the future. Ola, India’s largest ride-hailing startups, has plans to employ 10,000 E-Rickshaws in its fleet by April 2019. One of the biggest setbacks to the growth of EVs in India is the dearth of charging and battery-swap stations.

By the end of 2017, India had just 425 public charging stations. Government and private initiatives are expected to boost this number to 2,800 by 2022, according to BNEF. However, some companies aren’t waiting for the government and are starting to build their own infrastructure. SmartE and Delhi Metro Rail Corp has struck a deal to provide charging points for E-Rickshaws near 10 stations, with plans to cover all 214 stations by the end of 2020.

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Shishir Agrawal, the managing director of ShiganeVoltz Ltd., the parent company of GreenRick, an e-rick manufacturer, believes that another hurdle in the market is the absence of bank financing for the traditional rickshaw operators, who are typically low-income workers. If this issue is resolved, he believes it could be possible for the Gurgaon-company to produce 1,000 e-ricks a month. He says that the market has the potential for 20 million sales on an annual basis.

The publisher sees the segment as the most promising segment in the entire play and which will mushroom at a much faster rate than anticipated by any company. However, it is critical to asses the impact of COVID-19 on the demand for e-rickshaw as against the business as usual scenario.

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