Electric cycles, or e-cycles, are bicycles that have an electric motor and a battery that assist the rider in pedaling. E-cycles offer many benefits, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving fuel costs, improving health and fitness, and providing a fun and convenient mode of transportation. However, despite these advantages, the electric cycle market in India has not grown as expected.
What are the reasons behind this slow growth? What are the challenges that hinder the adoption of electric cycles in India? And what are the possible solutions to overcome these challenges?
Why Electric Cycle Market is Not Growing in India?
What we will be exploring in this content?
1) Road Safety in India
2) Need for Separate Corridor for Cycling in India
3) Overuse of ICE Two-Wheelers in India
4) Consumer Awareness and Behaviour in India
5) Technology and Innovation in India
Here are some possible reasons:
Road Safety in India
One of the major barriers to e-cycle adoption in India is the poor road safety situation. India has one of the highest rates of road accidents and fatalities in the world. According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, there were 4,12,432 road accidents in India in 2021, claiming 1,53,972 lives and causing injuries to 3,84,448 persons.
Two-wheelers accounted for more than 80% of total vehicle sales in India in fiscal year 2020–21, but they also accounted for 36% of total road accident deaths.
The main causes of road accidents in India include speeding, drunk driving, violation of traffic rules, poor road conditions, lack of enforcement, and lack of awareness. E-cycle riders are more vulnerable to these risks than car or bus users, as they have less protection and visibility on the road. Moreover, most Indian roads do not have dedicated lanes or infrastructure for cyclists, forcing them to share the space with motorized vehicles or pedestrians.
This creates conflicts and hazards for all road users. Therefore, many potential e-cycle buyers may be deterred by the fear of road accidents and injuries.
Need for Separate Corridor for Cycling in India
Another challenge for the e-cycle market in India is the lack of a separate corridor or network for cycling. A separate corridor for cycling is a facility that provides exclusive or preferential use for cyclists, such as bike lanes, bike paths, bike boulevards, or bike highways.
A separate corridor for cycling can enhance the safety, comfort, convenience, and attractiveness of cycling as a mode of transport. It can also reduce the traffic congestion and pollution caused by motorized vehicles. However, India has very few separate corridors for cycling compared to other countries.
According to a study by WRI India, only 12 out of 28 major Indian cities have some form of cycling infrastructure, covering less than 2% of their total road network. Moreover, most of these facilities are poorly designed, maintained, or enforced, resulting in encroachment by parked vehicles, vendors, pedestrians, or motorized vehicles. Therefore, many e-cycle riders may face difficulties or dissatisfaction while using the existing cycling infrastructure in India.
Overuse of ICE Two-Wheelers in India
A third factor that may affect the e-cycle market in India is the overuse of ICE two-wheelers. ICE two-wheelers are those that run on internal combustion engines (ICE), such as petrol or diesel. ICE two-wheelers are very popular in India due to their low cost, easy availability, high performance, and social status.
According to a report by ICCT4, ICE two-wheelers constituted more than 80% of total vehicle sales in India in fiscal year 2020–21 and accounted for 60% of India’s petrol consumption. However, ICE two-wheelers also have many disadvantages, such as emitting high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants that contribute to climate change and air quality problems. Moreover, ICE two-wheelers have low fuel efficiency and high maintenance costs compared to e-cycles.
Therefore, many e-cycle advocates argue that ICE two-wheelers are overused in India, especially for short-distance trips that can be easily replaced by e-cycles. However, many ICE two-wheeler users may be reluctant to switch to e-cycles due to habit, preference, or lack of awareness about the benefits of e-cycles.
Consumer Awareness and Behaviour in India
Another factor that may influence the e-cycle market in India is consumer awareness and behavior. Many consumers in India may not be aware of the features, benefits, and availability of e-cycles.
According to a survey by TERI, only 17% of the respondents were aware of e-cycles, and only 6% had ever used them. Moreover, many consumers may have misconceptions or doubts about the performance, reliability, and maintenance of e-cycles. For instance, some consumers may think that e-cycles are slow, heavy, or difficult to charge. Therefore, there is a need to increase consumer awareness and education about e-cycles through various channels, such as media, social media, events, exhibitions, and word-of-mouth.
Another aspect of consumer behavior that may affect the e-cycle market in India is the preference and willingness to pay for e-cycles. Many consumers in India may prefer ICE two-wheelers over e-cycles due to their perceived advantages in terms of speed, range, comfort, and status. Moreover, many consumers may not be willing to pay a premium for e-cycles, as they may consider them as a luxury or a niche product.
According to a study by CEEW, the average willingness to pay for an e-cycle in India was around INR 25,000, which is much lower than the average price of an e-cycle in India (around INR 40,000). Therefore, there is a need to create a value proposition for e-cycles that can appeal to consumer preferences and affordability in India.
Technology and Innovation in India
A final factor that may impact the e-cycle market in India is technology and innovation. Technology and innovation are essential for improving the performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of e-cycles. However, India faces some challenges in terms of technology and innovation for e-cycles. For instance, India lacks a strong domestic manufacturing base for e-cycle components, such as batteries, motors, controllers, and chargers. Most of these components are imported from China or other countries, which increases the cost and dependency of e-cycles. Moreover, India lacks adequate research and development (R&D) activities and investments in e-cycle technologies.
Most of the R&D activities are carried out by foreign companies or institutions, which limits the scope for local innovation and customization. Therefore, there is a need to foster technology and innovation for e-cycles in India by supporting domestic manufacturing, R&D, and collaboration among various stakeholders.
In conclusion, the e-cycle market in India is not growing as fast as it could due to various challenges, such as road safety, lack of separate corridors for cycling, overuse of ICE two-wheelers, consumer awareness and behavior, and technology and innovation. To overcome these challenges, there is a need for concerted efforts from the government, the industry, the civil society, and the consumers to promote and support e-cycle adoption in India. Some of the possible measures include:
▶️ Improving the road safety situation in India by enforcing strict traffic rules, improving road conditions, raising awareness, and providing emergency services.
▶️ Developing a separate corridor or network for cycling in India by allocating adequate space, funds, and resources for cycling infrastructure.
▶️ Encouraging the use of e-cycles instead of ICE two-wheelers in India by providing incentives, subsidies, regulations, and campaigns to highlight the environmental, economic, and social benefits of e-cycles.
▶️ Increasing consumer awareness and education about e-cycles through various channels, such as media, social media, events, exhibitions, and word-of-mouth.
▶️ Creating a value proposition for e-cycles that can appeal to consumer preferences and affordability in India.
▶️ Fostering technology and innovation for e-cycles in India by supporting domestic manufacturing, R&D, and collaboration among various stakeholders.
By implementing these measures, the e-cycle market in India can grow significantly and contribute to a cleaner, greener, and healthier future for the country and its people.
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