Ola and Ola Electric co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal, in a blog post on how the year 2022 has transformed the Indian EV industry, said the year will be remembered as the year India’s EV revolution truly took off. Aggarwal said the EV industry saw 20x growth by 2022-end, with the monthly run rate increasing from just 4,000 units a month in June 2021 to 80,000 units towards the end of 2022. The year saw the EV penetration rising from 1% in 2021 to almost 6% -- in some cities, almost 20% -- in just a year, with the reach not only restricted to urban but rural areas as well.
"The customer preference for EVs across tier 1, 2, 3 cities and rural centres showed us that the market in India had always existed, ready to embrace EVs – the new, superior technology," the Ola Electric chief writes in a blog post.
He said the global EV transformation started in the West, with companies like Tesla and more recently Rivian, Lucid, and traditional European carmakers like BMW, Mercedes, etc., joining in. These companies have focused on products like luxury sedans, large pickup trucks and other formats relevant to the western audience. Even the cheapest Tesla Model 3 will cost upwards of $50,000 (or ₹50,00,000 in India), he said.
However, for a majority of the world, mobility doesn’t mean luxury products, he opined. "In countries like India, more than 99% of products sold are priced between ₹1,00,000 – ₹50,00,000! Same is the case in South East Asia, LatAm, Africa and even to a large extent in some developed geographies like Europe and Japan," he writes.
This price point encompasses product segments from 2Ws, including scooters, motorbikes and small, mid-size SUVs and cars, he said. He like Japan led the ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) era, when the Japanese companies dominated the 2W segment with iconic companies like Honda, Suzuki, Toyota, Nissan, Yamaha, Kawasaki, etc., developing core technologies, today it's India's destiny. "Our strengths of being one of the largest and fastest growing domestic markets, entrepreneurial and innovative companies, strong government and policy momentum, world-class talent and capital access will enable a strong play," he adds.
Aggarwal tried to counter some arguments made against the EV stakeholders, saying even with India’s current power generation mix, EVs are less than half as polluting as ICE vehicles. "An ICE engine has an energy conversion efficiency of 30% whereas an EV motor has an energy conversion efficiency of 95%."
On claims that lithium is owned by China, so India will increase dependence on China with increasing EV adoption, Aggarwal said China currently dominates the midstream processing of lithium. However, the majority of lithium mines are located in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. "By focusing on localising the midstream processing of lithium and partnering with these countries, India can build an alternate supply chain for ourselves and the world."
On claims that hydrogen is the future, not EVs, he said hydrogen will "never" be as efficient as EVs. "Imagine, using electricity to produce hydrogen, then compressing and shipping over thousands of kilometres and then pumping it into hydrogen cars and converting it back into electricity."
The grid is the most efficient system to transport electricity and EVs will always be cheaper than hydrogen cars.
He said this is India's opportunity to seize the 21st century and will be India's decade of EV transformation and becoming a global EV hub. To build this future, he said India needs a four-pronged strategy -- build world-class aspirational products; invest in R&D and build the core tech; build local supply chains in new materials and components; and attract the best talent.
Notably, Ola Electric launched its first e-scooter and the world’s largest 2W plant on August 15, 2021, becoming the largest EV company in India by revenue and volume in just 15 months. The company claims to have sold almost 1,50,000 EVs this year.