THE COST of buying and operating battery-powered buses and three-wheelers has seen a significant dip, following various government incentives aimed at increasing the acceptance of these vehicles for public transport, said sources.
Citing government data, sources said that the cost of operating a battery-powered three-wheeler has fallen by up to 25%, as compared to 2016-17. While an electric three-wheeler is currently priced at about Rs 3 lakh, its total cost of ownership (TCO) is about Rs 2.1/ km, as compared to Rs 2.8/km for its petrol variant and Rs 2.32 for its CNG variant.
The TCO of any vehicle is calculated on the basis of its acquisition and operational cost over the period of service.
The price of battery-powered buses has seen a big fall, from about Rs 2.5 crore in 2017 to Rs 91 lakh-Rs 1 crore now, contributing to the dip in its TCO. While the diesel (about Rs 34 lakh) and CNG (about Rs 38 lakh) buses are cheaper, sources said the operation cost for electric buses is 23% lower than CNG buses and 27% lower than diesel buses.
This is in keeping with global trends, which show the TCO of electric buses to be lower than both high-end and low-end diesel buses.
For a 12-metre electric bus, the TCO ranges between Rs 53.77/ km and Rs 77.75/ km, depending on the battery size. Notably, the TCO of battery-run buses in India is even lower than the global average and ranges between Rs 39.21/ km to Rs 47.49/ km, according to government data. The corresponding TCO figures for diesel and CNG buses are not available.
“The schemes have helped reduce the cost of these electric vehicles, which will help increase their acceptance. The schemes should help increase acceptance further since setting up charging infrastructure is also part of the schemes,” said a senior official of the Ministry of Heavy Industries who did not want to be identified.
The government is supporting the adoption of electric vehicles through two schemes — Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, or FAME, and Productivity-Linked Incentives for Auto and Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Storage that aims at localisation of battery for electric vehicles.
Under FAME, the government seeks to generate demand by buying electric vehicles in bulk. In its second phase, the target is 7,000 electric buses, 5 lakh electric three-wheelers, 55,000 electric four-wheeler passenger cars and 10 lakh electric two-wheelers. In addition, the scheme also supports the creation of setting up infrastructure for charging the vehicles.
The procurement of buses is currently centralised and the central government had, in June 2021, nominated CESL as the nodal agency for the FAME scheme that is led by the Ministry of Heavy Industries.
In April-end, the government, under the second phase of FAME, had announced procurement of 5,000 electric buses from Tata Motors through competitive bidding.
The buses procured under the FAME scheme will be distributed among various state transport undertakings, including Delhi. Delhi currently operates a fleet of 4,000 buses, of which about 250 are battery-powered. The addition of electric buses in the fleet will help tackle pollution issues in the long run.
The Centre is looking at replacing up to 30,000 diesel-run buses with electric buses in the next two-three years, providing a $3.5-billion business opportunity to manufacturers, and helping create an ecosystem for electric buses which will make them cheaper.
Over 1.6 million buses ply on Indian roads every day — most running on diesel. About 10% of these are run by state transport undertakings, most of which are running into losses.