As the Centre is expected to take steps to come up with a law to allow plying of e-rickshaws, firms like Electrotherm India Ltd (EIL) are now working on improving the design of the electric three wheeler prototypes they have so that they can grab the opportunity when the time comes. The company is likely to launch the e-three wheeler in the market sometime next fiscal.
Mukesh Bhandari, chairman and chief technical officer of EIL said that the market for electric three wheelers in India is already estimated to be around 100,000 units a year, and once they are legalised through necessary notification, the demand can easily touch 200,000 units a year. His firm already has an electric three-wheeler product since 2006. It did not launch the vehicle commercially owing to low demand as well as working capital crunch.
Bhandari said, “We are working on upgrading the design of the vehicle, and if everything goes well, we can launch the vehicle next fiscal.”
Earlier, this month road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had said that the government is working coming out with a law that will allow plying of e-rickshaws in Delhi. A notification pertaining e-rickshaws has already been issued.
The government is trying to look at safety and other concerns raised over e-rickshaws and is taking necessary steps as well as modifications in the rules and law to allow the plying of these battery operated vehicles. The Delhi High Court had banned the plying of e-rickshaws on city roads in July and on September 9 had said that the ban on e-rickshaws in the capital would continue until rules are framed to regulate them.
However, as new set of rules are expected that would regulate the plying of e-rickshaws, it opens up huge opportunity for firms like EIL.
As Bhandari explained the firm had a far better quality product ready compared to the electric three wheelers on Delhi roads that require frequent battery replacements. “Even after the limitation of replacing the battery almost every six months, operators are keen on the e-rickshaws as they are economic when one considers the price of conventional fuel. Hence, there is significant demand,” he said.
Anticipating the huge demand for electric three-wheelers in India, already a group of 15 companies from China are planning to set up an industrial park near Sanand with an investment of around $ 100 million. A delegation comprising seven electric vehicle manufacturing companies visited Sanand in August.
This apart, companies are also waiting for more clarity on the subsidy front expected to be announced as a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. A Noida-based company Lohia Auto has already launched electric three wheelers during the last Auto Expo and they are priced around Rs one lakh at the moment without the subsidy.
Bhandari did not wish to comment on the pricing front for EIL’s electric three wheelers.