More students could travel on electric rickshaws like this under India's new policies and efforts to go electric.
More students could travel on electric rickshaws like this under India’s new policies and efforts to go electric.

Image: RAJAT GUPTA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

An all-electric rickshaw or three-wheeled vehicle may soon be more of the norm on streets in India — a country with a massive 1.3 billion population and a dependency on carbon energy sources to match. 

At this week’s Global Mobility Summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made comments that could change the car industry and energy consumption in the country. He spoke about a countrywide policy to support more electric and non-oil-dependent vehicles and indicated it will launch soon, according to Reuters.

Car companies are chomping at the bit to tap into the Indian market. Toyota is already working to bring electric vehicles to India in the next few years and more recently Suzuki announced 50 electric prototypes to test in the country. If the country commits to electric incentive and credit programs to move drivers away from fossil fuels, it could attract an electric vehicle market like China’s.

Mahindra Electric is one of the electric vehicle companies trying to make a dent in the country’s EV scene. At this week’s summit, Mahindra showcased to the prime minister its three-wheeled Treo as a low-cost, rechargeable urban vehicle.

While efforts from companies like Mahindra are ramping up, according to a Bloomberg estimate last year only a total of 2,000 electric vehicles were sold in India. That’s miniscule. China’s EV market is booming with an estimated 579,000 sold in 2017.

Although more electric vehicles would put increased demand on India’s grid, require a robust charging network, and rely on battery imports from places like China, this could be a government-led effort to meaningfully go electric. Last year, the country announced a 2030 goal to sell only electric vehicles — so this could get India closer to that lofty goal.

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