The entire world is facing and battling the worst pandemic crisis ever seen along with the global economy facing massive downtime. Which also makes this time more difficult. Countries around the globe have posed severe stringent restrictions ranging from days to months of lockdown periods. Due to this pandemic, many businesses are halted, some have never seen before downtime and some are waiting for the market conditions to improve. But, still there are several sectors of the industry that are still shining out and even using this period as an opportunity for the development of their business. The Electric Vehicles Industry is one of those industries that they even expect even better growth post Covid-19.
Impact of Covid-19 on the Auto Industry
COVID-19 has put a brake on the auto industry across the world. It has also impacted the EV market with NEV sales plunging to an all-time low in the world’s largest EV hub, China. The Indian auto industry which was already grappling with BS-VI emission norms deadline was hit by a double blow when the lockdown was announced. India is the world’s fourth-largest market and it has come to a screeching halt with all manufacturing operations suspended under the guidelines issued by the state and central government.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said that the auto industry will witness an estimated loss of Rs 2,300 crore loss per day due to lockdown. During the lockdown period, the Central government was discouraging the general distribution of petrol and diesel to discourage city and cross-state commuting. In such a situation where fuel supply is not available, this further provides opportunities for the EV industry.
Changes in the market post Covid-19
Even in the post Covid-19 situation, Electric three-wheelers which constitute the largest chunk in the segment will be hit due to the concept of social distancing and the consumers’ concern for hygiene. Only affordable electric two-wheelers may find few customers going forward. People may move from public transport to private transport. Demands for Electric Vehicles may pick up due to a higher focus on deliveries because even in that situation few people will choose to go out. Buses, especially city buses which have higher EV penetration are mostly bought by STU’s which is purely driven by the government’s propensity to spend in different states of the country. All-time low pollution levels could change consumer behaviour as well as propel policymakers to further encourage EVs.
Recent BS-VI regulations by the government have increased the costs of ICE vehicles, making EVs a bit more attractive for the consumers. So Post Covid 19, while the entire automotive industry will be impacted including EVs, the impact on EVs may be slightly lower than ICE.
Consumer Behaviour Post Covid-19
There will be large changes in the consumer’s behaviour post Covid-19. People will avoid using these public modes of transportation, including cabs, metro, auto and buses, as a precautionary measure. It is totally evident from the countries, where the lockdown has been lifted recently. Usage of private cars, walking, and biking has gained numbers since the pandemic began, while buses and other public transport ridership declined.Given this future scenario, it forays a promising picture for the EV industry especially for the daily city commuters who travel shorter distances within the city such as people from service industries, homemakers, students etc. Being a safer and more economical mode of transportation, the segment will gain traction in given days with enhanced demand.
The Future of EV post Lockdown
The future of mobility looks very different now than about three months ago, where we had seen a big shift towards shared mobility & a push for public & sustainable transport. Even now, in some places where the lockdown has partially lifted, People are prioritizing their health and avoiding crowded mass or shared transportation modes. The numbers of people opting for EV have gained momentum. People are depending on electric mobility for emergencies such as food supplies or medicines. According to an ING report, COVID-19 will leave its mark on mobility behaviour and see a temporary reversal of the upward trend in car sharing due to social distancing. The Indian electric vehicle (EV) market will continue to be largely driven by the two-wheeler and three-wheeler segments as of now. As per EV market forecast, e-rickshaws, e-autos and e-two wheelers are the most promising segments for electrification in India and are expected to account for over four-million units by 2025. The period post-COVID 19 will serve as a perfect chance for EV brands to connect with their customers from these segments. A lot of top brands are using this time to get in touch with customers through digital or social media to improve loyalty and sustain brand awareness. Since e-commerce is on the rise, EV companies are also using this downtime to create a stronger online presence for more visibility. In the post Covid-19, EV companies will be able to recuperate their impetus once the contagion is confined. They will be back in action on the road to EV uprising in the country.
Dr. Irfan Khan
The author is Co-Founder & CEO of eBikeGo (www.ebikego.in) India’s leading electric bike rental platform.