A Quiet EV Revolution Is Brewing In India’s Hinterland

It’s around 7 p.m. and Dinesh Gurjar returns home after delivering milk to about 45 houses. He unloads empty containers and puts his scooter on charging in a dimly lit courtyard.

A petrol-driven Splendor motorcycle, made by India’s biggest two-wheeler company Hero MotoCorp Ltd., is parked in one corner of the half-covered front that doubles as a kitchen of his mud-and-bricks home.

The milkman from Umrain village in Rajasthan’s Alwar, 164-kilometres southwest of Delhi, has switched from a motorbike to an electric scooter.

“With petrol prices now at Rs 100, there were hardly any savings,” Gurjar said, wiping off sweat as he sat down. He got convinced after his neighbour purchased an battery-powered two-wheeler a couple of months ago. What struck him was almost no running cost or maintenance.

His EV, manufactured by Hero Electric Ltd., India’s largest electric two-wheeler maker (not part of Hero MotoCorp), runs for about 110 kilometres on a single charge. Having paid Rs 67,000, he expects to recover the cost by next year by saving on petrol.

Gurjar, one of India’s ubiquitous milkmen seen ferrying oversized containers on motorbikes, is an early convert in a tiny market. But he is part of a quiet electric revolution brewing in India’s mofussil towns. As petrol and diesel prices hit record highs, pandemic-scarred Indians are searching for cheaper options. And poor public transport trumps concerns about lack of charging infrastructure and irregular power.

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