India is known to be one of the world’s largest two-wheeler markets. Estimates from India Emissions Model of the International Council for Clean Transportation indicate that two-wheelers accounted for 70% of petrol, and 25% of oil consumption from road transport in 2021. India’s dependence on fossil fuels will be more than double by the year 2050 if we continue to promote petrol-powered two-wheelers.
In the past few years, the healthy uptake of electric two-wheelers in India has been instrumental in accelerating the country’s transition to e-mobility. According to a recent report by the NITI Aayog and the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), there is a possibility of 100% penetration of electric two-wheelers in the Indian market by FY26-27.
Experts from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) have weighed in with their views on vehicle electrification and how it can reduce India’s dependence on oil imports, thereby paving the way for an energy-independent and self-reliant future.
I. V. Rao, Senior Visiting Fellow, TERI, said, “Two-wheelers in India have always been considered as the key vehicle segment, where EV transition could take place faster than in any other segment. This is due to several reasons – low dependance on public charging stations; comparatively low vehicle price due to FAME2 and state incentives; rising purchasing power of consumers; and very low operating costs. The growth in this segment is also largely driven by newcomers in the auto industry, with a focus on technology-based, user-centric solutions. A faster transition to e-mobility in the two-wheeler segment would lead to a significant impact on petrol demand, eventually lowering import dependency and emissions. Higher penetration of EVs in this segment will have a significant positive impact on the environment and air quality, besides yielding cost savings for users.”
Shikha Rokadiya, Researcher (Consultant), ICCT, said, “Achieving 100% electrification of new two-wheeler sales by 2035 can lower India’s cumulative petrol demand by more than 500 Mtoe (Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent) and associated costs by over US$740 Billion between 2020 and 2050. From a pollution standpoint, India has made some bold policy moves in the past decade, including transitioning to BS-VI emission standards. This has arrested the rise in air pollution to a considerable degree. However, with increasing volumes of vehicles on the roads, PM and NOx emissions from two-wheelers will continue to rise despite such standards being in effect. In view of this, large-scale electrification of two-wheelers is the most cost-effective pathway for bringing exhaust emissions to near-zero.”
As India celebrates 75 years of independence, large-scale vehicle electrification will be crucial for India in the years ahead to achieve its transport decarbonization and net-zero goals. The transition to e-mobility will also support several other national goals including reducing oil imports, improving air quality, and supporting actions to mitigate climate change. Furthermore, it will foster India’s industrial competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global market.