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Electric cars represent the future of personal transportation. Unlike traditional petrol or diesel-powered vehicles that run on fossil fuels, electric cars use a battery-powered electric motor. The battery pack stores energy that is then used to power the motor that runs the car.
What makes electric vehicles so exciting is that they have numerous advantages over conventional cars in terms of sustainability, ownership costs, and even performance. As battery technology continues to advance and more models enter the market, electric cars have the potential to fundamentally transform our concept of personal mobility in the years to come.
Rather than filling up at smog-spewing petrol pumps, you can simply charge up your electric car overnight at home while you sleep. With some models today offering over 400 km of range on a single charge, range anxiety is reducing as well. The lower running costs and availability of government incentives also make electric cars an attractive option for car buyers focused on value. The instant torque delivery from the electric motor enables exhilarating yet smooth driving performance too. Overall, electric cars seem poised to disrupt the Indian automotive market in the near future.
The electric car has a long and winding history. Experiments with electric vehicles powered by batteries date back to the 19th century. But it was at the dawn of the 20th century that electric cars really took off for a while before fading from the limelight.
Internal combustion engines running on cheaper petrol, mass-produced by German engineer Karl Benz, eventually dominated the market as oil prices fluctuated dramatically through wars and crises over the decades, and interest in electric vehicles waxed and waned.
Periods of high oil prices in the 1960s and 1990s led auto companies and governments to revisit the technology. Electric cars produced during those eras generated excitement but could not fully deliver due to limitations in top speed and battery range on a single charge. They remained a niche product.
A major breakthrough arrived in 1991 when Sony commercialised the modern lithium-ion battery. As the technology improved exponentially over the years, it became lighter, denser, cheaper and more powerful. Combined with developments in electric motor tech and overall car design, the age of practical electric cars for everyday use was finally within reach.
General Motors launched the innovative EV1 in 1996 but later scrapped the project. Tesla Motors single-handedly revived interest in luxury electric vehicles with their high-performance Roadster and Model S starting in 2006. Nissan, BMW and Renault also achieved success with early electric offerings for the mass market around 2010. The age of the modern electric vehicle had clearly arrived.
The electric car market in India is still in its infancy but is witnessing steady growth. Mahindra was one of the first companies to launch electric cars in India with the e2o hatchback in 2013. Tata Motors also commercially launched the Tigor EV for government and fleet consumers in 2017.
The Indian government aims to have 30% of electric cars on roads by 2030 under the FAME scheme and has introduced several policies over the years, like lower GST rates, income tax rebates, etc., to promote eco-friendly electric mobility.
Falling battery prices and gradually improving charging infrastructure across tier 1 cities are expected to accelerate the adoption of electric cars in the coming years.
Electric car sales accounted for only 0.06% of annual car sales in India in 2020. High acquisition costs, limited model availability, lack of public charging stations, and range anxiety have restricted mainstream adoption of electric cars so far.
However, India saw a 20% rise in EV sales in 2021 over 2020, indicating rising popularity. In metropolitan cities, EVs have found increased acceptance as second or third cars in affluent households due to attractive running costs of ₹1-2 per km compared to ₹6-8 per km for petrol or diesel vehicles.
Government subsidies of up to ₹1.5 Lakhs under the FAME scheme have made compact electric hatchbacks and sedans affordable for the urban middle class. The 2024 launch of affordable EV models like Vayve Mobility EVA, BYD Seagull, and budget SUVs is expected to drive growth in smaller towns and cities as well.
There are three main types of electric cars:
Some of the most popular electric cars bought by Indian consumers are:
Multiple car launches over the next two years are set to expand India's electric car market further, such as:
Electric cars today are available in a wide variety of body styles, seating capacities, transmission options and price ranges to suit diverse consumer needs.
All mainstream passenger vehicle manufacturers like Tata Motors, MG Motors, Hyundai, Mahindra & Mahindra already offer electric car models in India. Luxury car brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Volvo also retail imported premium electric sedans, SUVs and sports cars in India.
In the commercial vehicle space, brands like Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland provide electric bus options to state transport undertakings. Going forward, almost every major auto brand is working on expanding their EV line-up for India.
Electric cars cater to a wide range of consumer budgets:
Given the high torque characteristics of electric motors, most electric cars meant for city use come with single-speed direct-drive transmissions instead of traditional manual or automatic gearboxes. This also allows for smooth, jerk-free acceleration.
High-performance luxury sports models and electric SUVs meant for highway cruising offer advanced multi-speed automatic transmissions customised for electric powertrains.
Electric cars cater to personal as well as shared mobility needs. These cars in India are available in the following seating capacity options:
Ideal for small families, some of the 4-seater electric cars available in India include:
The most popular electric cars in India are 5-seaters, suitable for average-sized families. Some options are:
|Tata Nexon EV
|Rs. 15.55 L - 20.53 L
|Tata Nexon EV Prime(2020-2023)
|Rs. 17.16 L - 17.37 L
|Tata Nexon EV Max(2022-2023)
|Rs. 18.74 L - 20.89 L
|Tata Tiago EV
|Rs. 8.18 L - 12.34 L
|Rs. 16.33 L - 18.41 L