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Piaggio to step up play in the electric three-wheeler space; to launch first electric cargo vehicle by year-end

National, September 17, 2020: Piaggio Vehicles, India’s second-largest three-wheeler manufacturer, is expecting robust demand for its electric passenger three-wheelers in the coming months.

The company is preparing to enter the electric cargo space in three-wheelers before the end of the year, a top official told Moneycontrol.

Piaggio, which entered the electric three-wheeler space in December 2019, saw ‘a very positive response’ for its swappable battery technology-enabled passenger three-wheeler in the following quarter. However, due to the lockdown and ensuing restriction over shared mobility, demand took a knock.

Diego Graffi, Chairman and managing director, Piaggio Vehicles, said: “The response for the electric three-wheeler has been very promising. We introduced the system of battery swapping in India with our electric three-wheeler, which was on sale between January and March. After lockdown, because of the restrictions on shared mobility, we saw quite a dip in consumer demand”.

Piaggio launched the Ape e-City for Rs 1.97 lakh in December with swappable-battery technology.

“But demand started to pick up again in the later part of July. In the next few months, demand should be at a good pace,” Graffi added.

Electric three-wheeler market

The electric three-wheeler has found significant traction in the Indian market. So much so, that in FY19, the segment sales at 6.3 lakh overtook even the fossil-fuel powered three-wheelers sales at 5.72 lakh in the same year, as per data shared by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicle (SMEV). The association did not share sales data for FY20.

But going by sales data shared by Mahindra Electric Mobility, demand seemed to be upbeat even in FY20.

The Mahindra & Mahindra-controlled EV maker saw sales of its electric three-wheelers grow to 13,636 units in FY20 — an increase of 61 percent, as against 8,465 units in FY19.

According to PRS Market Research, the Indian electric rickshaw market is projected to reach 9.35 lakh units by 2024, registering a CAGR of 15.9 percent in five years according to the reports published in moneycontrol.com.

Euler Motors, Omega Seiki and Terra Motors are some of the new companies which have entered this space. In July, Mumbai-based Greaves Cotton acquired Noida-based electric three-wheeler maker Bestway Agencies.

Entry into cargo

Demand from e-commerce companies for last-mile delivery vehicles has made manufacturers come out with product solutions in the electric cargo three-wheeler space. Demand was also emerging from intra-city delivery operators and partners.

“Introducing a cargo electric three-wheeler was in our plans for this year. We expect the later part of 2020 to see some launches in the cargo space — both in fixed and swappable battery models. We are currently in discussion with players in the retail space in India and they have demonstrated a pretty high level of interest for our products,” added Graffi.

In March, Omega Seiki forayed into the cargo electric three-wheeler space with the launch of Singha and Singha Max models, priced at Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 3.6 lakh, respectively. Both have a payload capacity of 500kg and can run for 100 km after a required charging time of 2-3 hours.

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