Tata Motors celebrates 100,000 BEV sales

But Indian EV adoption continues to lag on affordability concerns

Tata Motors celebrates 100,000 BEV sales
Tata controls almost four fifths of the Indian EV passenger vehicle market

India's Tata Motors is lauding the sale of its 100,000th battery electric passenger vehicle and its continued dominance of the Indian BEV market. But the low penetration of EVs across the nation provides little to celebrate.

India’s biggest automaker revealed it had reached the milestone on 11 August, almost three years since it began selling electric passenger vehicles. The second 50,000 of sales happened in 9 months, it says. 

Tata sells by far the most BEVs in India. In the first six months of 2023, it accounted for 77pc of the 38,359 BEVs that were sold in the country, according to government data. In second place is MG Motor India, which sold 3,215 vehicles, or 8.4pc of the total.

But, while no-one wants to be a party pooper, the numbers from Tata (and the Indian market as a whole) are pretty small. BEVs made up just 2.3pc of the 327,487 passenger vehicles sold in India in June. That compares with a market share of 15.1pc in the EU that month, and 7.4pc in the US.

While penetration has picked up considerably since 2021 when it was just 0.4pc, a lack of charging infrastructure, cost concerns and low levels of government support mean that India is less far along in its EV journey than other large economies. India is the world’s third-largest auto market behind China and the US. 

Under FAME II, introduced in 2019, a maximum incentive of 150,000 rupees ($1,800) is available for an EV. The Indian government has EV targets of 30pc for passenger vehicles, 70pc for commercial vehicles and 80pc for two- and three-wheelers by 2030. 

“The growth in EV penetration is a positive sign. This indicates that the awareness and adoption of EVs are gradually increasing,” says Ravi Bhatia, president and director of consultancy Jato Dynamics India. 

“It is important to note that while the growth in EV penetration is promising, it will likely take time for EVs to become a mainstream choice in India,” says Bhatia. “A combination of infrastructure development, policy support, consumer education, and technological advancements will play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of EV adoption in the country.”

Tata’s success in growing the Indian EV market can be put down to its ability to produce more affordable vehicles than its rivals.

According to auto trading platform Cardekho, Tata manufactures four of the 10 most affordable EVs available for purchase in India. The Tiago EV, which ranks fourth in affordability, comes at a price point of just over $10,000 while its most expensive model, the Nexon EV Max, can be purchased for around $20,000. Demand for high-end EVs in India is yet to emerge in any significant volume.

But while much cheaper than equivalent vehicles in Europe or the US, they are still expensive relative to ICE cars, which retail for as little as $4,800.  

“As technology advances and economies of scale are achieved in manufacturing, the cost of EVs is expected to decrease, making them more affordable for a larger segment of the population,” says Bhatia.

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