Clean vehicles in India and China key to future global environment

Businessweek reports on a shift from scooters to small cars in India

A critical factor for India and China’s environment and the global environment is the form of the 1+ billion vehicles that India and China will use from 2007-2020. How many will be two wheelers versus four wheelers and how many will be electric and how many will be gas powered. Making electric two wheel vehicles with suitable performance and low cost is an achievable goal which is being deployed in China. There are 800 million cars around the world now. If China and India become major users of cars there could be 2 billion cars by 2020. India and China automobile adoption is also constrained by a lack of road infrastructure. This will force more efficient public transit and scooter usage.

I had a report on electric bicycles and scooters in China There will be 60 million electric bicycles and scooters in China by the end of 2007 out of 450 million bicycles in use in China. By 2011, there could be 350 million electric bicycles and scooters. India has 100 million scooters but almost all of them are gas powered.

India has a the 65 million-per-year two-wheeler market. Small cars dominate Indian roads, with 70% of the 1.4 million-car annual market. That’s likely to double by 2008. Spurred by a growing demand for compact and low-cost cars, auto sales are expected to soar from $34 billion last year to $145 billion by 2016. According to the Strategic Foresight group, between 2001 and 2007 about 100 million Indians moved up the ladder from being bullock cart-users to being two-wheeler users. The next move is a car—an affordable one, which bridges the gap between the $1,450 average scooter to the $4,800 small car currently on the market.

In January, 2008, Tata is expected to introduce cars in the price range of $3,000 and below, with engine capacities ranging from 660 cc to 1,500 cc in gasoline, diesel, and hybrid versions.

Hero group is the largest builder of 2-wheel vehicles in India. Hero Honda Motors is the World’s largest manufacturer of two-wheelers with annual sales volume of over 3.0 million motorcycles.

Some of the Hero Group mopeds

50 cc mopeds can get 70-100mpg and go about 40mph and cost $600-1000.

Electric bikes in China can go for $150-250 and have top speeds of about 15-30mph.

The Hero Group announced that it would be launching high-speed battery-run two-wheelers as also three-wheelers in a few months, but has no plans, as of now, to introduce electric four-wheelers. The group said it would also be launching battery-run e-bikes with speeds between 40 – 50 km per hour in the next six months. Although China, from where the Hero Group is importing batteries, happens to be the biggest market with 20 million e-bikes sold annually, the company is focusing only on domestic (Indian) market with 0.1 million units. However, Hero is looking at Russia to begin its exports. The group, which introduced battery-run two-wheelers in seven models in the price range of INR 15,000 and INR 28,000 recently, would by March 2008 have 120 show-rooms in the country. It is projecting revenue of INR 1,200-1,500 million this fiscal from sale of e-bikes, including a 15% share from Gujarat.