A brief history of EV and an impact of COVID 19 on EV

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An electric vehicle also called an EV. An electric vehicle (EV) is one that operates on an electric motor, instead of an internal-combustion engine. EVs first came into existence in the mid-19th century, when electricity was among the preferred methods for motor vehicle propulsion. Now electrics are considered as a possible replacement for current IC powered vehicles to get rid of air pollution, global warming and depleting oil reserves.

First crude electric vehicle was developed by Robert Anderson of England in 1832. Around 1840, a Scotsman named Robert Davidson built an electric locomotive that attained a speed of four miles per hour (6 km/h). Early electric vehicle development took place mostly in Scotland, Hungary, and Netherlands.

William Morrison, a chemist from Des Moines developed first electric vehicle around 1890 in US. In US Thomas Edison, one of the world’s most legendry inventors thought that electric vehicles were the superior technology and worked to build a more efficient and powerful electric vehicle battery. Even more, It was said that Henry Ford, Who was friends with Edison, partnered with Edison to explore options for a low-cost electric car in 1914.

In 1902 the first courageous attempt of mass manufacturing of electric car was done by, “Studebaker Automobile Company”. In the early phase of electric cars faced tough completion from their rival IC engine-powered cars. Electric batteries were too bulky and there were limitation over battery storage. In US electric cost was almost 3 fold of it’s rival gasoline car.

Around 1910 Ford motor company installed assembly lines to produce cars in masses. With the introduction of cheap assembly line cars by Ford, electric cars couldn’t sustain. In US other infrastructural developments like availability of gasoline filling stations across the country helped to prosper IC engines whereas most of the rural area was under electrification.

What is EV?

An EV is a shortened acronym for an electric vehicle. An electric vehicle is an alternative of fuel automobiles that uses electric motors and motor controllers for propulsion, in place of more common propulsion methods such as the internal combustion engine (ICE).

Types of EV –

As on date currently we can classify EV in following 3 broader categories –

  • BEV
  • PHEV
  • HEV


Battery Electric Vehicles, also called BEVs, and more frequently called EVs, are fully-electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries and no gasoline engine. Battery electric vehicles store electricity onboard with high-capacity battery packs.

  Examples of BEV are –

  • Tesla Model 3
  • Nissan LEAF
  • Ford Focus Electric


Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles or PHEVs can recharge the battery through both regenerative braking and “plugging in” to an external source of electrical power.

PHEV Examples

  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Ford C-Max Energy
  • Toyota Prius
  • Fiat 500e


HEVs are powered by both gasoline and electricity. The electric energy is generated by the car’s own braking system to recharge the battery. This is called ‘regenerative braking’, a process where the electric motor helps to slow the vehicle and uses some of the energy normally converted to heat by the brakes.

HEV Examples

  • Honda Civic Hybrid
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid

Benefits of EV –

  1. Electric vehicles are eco friendly. As EV don’t have IC engines hence no emissions of harmful gases. It helps to reduce Co2 emissions.
  2. EV produces almost no noise as it has very few moving parts.
  3. Electric energy is highly efficient energy hence running cost of electric vehicle is very low.
  4. As there are no moving elements hence cost of maintenance is very low.
  5. For the countries where there are no fossil fuels are available for those countries to minimize dependency on other countries EV is good option.

Global EV sales –

Electric car deployment has been growing rapidly over the past ten years. According to the Global EV Outlook 2019, the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1 million in 2018. That means a 2 million increase from 2017, nearly doubling EV sales in just one year. China remained the world’s largest EV market in 2018, with 2.3 million electric vehicles in active use. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly half (45%) of the global stock of EVs. Europe and the US are relatively far behind with 1.2 and 1.1 million EVs respectively.

Norway has the highest market penetration per capita in the world, and also has the world’s largest plug-in segment market share of new car sales, 49.1% in 2018. As of 2018, 10% of all passenger cars on Norwegian roads were plug-ins. Tesla is now the world’s largest EV producer, followed by two Chinese automakers, BYD and BAIC Motor.

Top 10 selling electric cars globally

EV Sales – India

A currently electric car sale is in a very nascent stage. Very few serious players in the market typically Mahindra and Tata Motors. About 7100 cars on road since the introduction of the first Electric Car in 2001 by REVA (Mahindra). Bangalore, New Delhi are the main cities pioneering in the adoption of this new technology.

For last 3-4 years EV two-wheeler markets is picking up but EV car market is stagnant. Apart from Tata and Mahindra home-grown automobile manufacturer only Hyundai has launched it’s product. In 2019 total of 1309 units of Car are sold. Mahindra e Verito & Tata Tigor EV dominated with 75% of total sales volume.

In two wheeler segment, number of players is increasing year on year. Recently revolt Motors and Tork Motors have launched their Electric bikes which could attract youths. Currently in 2 wheeler segment there are near about 20 manufacturers. There is healthy competition in two wheeler which will ultimately benefit customers.

EV Sales
Major city with larger EV population
Major players in EV – India

Challenges for Electric scooter in India

India has done remarkable progress in automotive. There are many challenges to face for EV. Main challenges are –

  • Lack of public charging infrastructure and a high cost of batteries.
  • Electricity supply in smaller towns and cities, where demand is picking up, is irregular.
  • The efficient battery pack is very crucial and currently, it is not indigenized. Many components associated are being imported hence are costlier.
  • Electric scooters available as on date are not as powerful as their petrol counterparts. Have limitations on speed and gradient ride.

Government Initiatives for EV promotion –

The Government started faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme which provides incentives for purchasing electric vehicles. Government is releasing tenders to increase charging infrastructure in the country. Karnataka approved Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy 2017.

Some state governments like the Delhi government are playing a major role to increase the use of EV’s in India. The Delhi Government recently approved 1000 Electric buses to be used in Delhi’s public transport system. The New Delhi EV policy aims to have 25% of all vehicles sold in Delhi to be electric by 2024.

The Maharashtra Government is focusing on increasing EV use in the state by proposing to exempt EV’s from road tax and providing a 15% subsidy to the first lakh EV’s registered in the state. To improve suitable infrastructure, the government proposed to provide a maximum subsidy of Rs. 1 million (~$15,549) per charging station to the first 250 stations that are set up in Maharashtra.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is procuring 10,000 nos. of Electric Vehicles from reputed manufacturers for distribution to Government Departments on rental model and upfront sale model.

COVID 19 – Effect on EV

The outbreak of the Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) is having a major impact on all aspects of society, including the automotive industry. there could be sharp decline approx. 40 – 45 % this year, experts said in a recent report. The reason: the travel bans in response to the corona virus and a looming recession, which has dampened people’s appetite for new purchases, especially costly ones such as a new car. EV sales (electric car) there fell by 54% by the end of January when the epidemic really took off in the country. February sales figures, according to Wood Mac, are expected to be even worse, with a decline of 90%.

the eurozone economy could shrink by more than 10% in the first half of the year, a survey among economists made by Bloomberg has suggested. Even Norway’s economy, normally strong and outside the eurozone, is set for a contraction this year as a result of the pandemic. And Norway is the strongest EV market in Europe, so that’s bad news for the industry. 

In further bad news, the UK, another big EV market, could see its GDP contract by as much as 35% because of the pandemic. Germany’s economy is expected to book a 9.8% contraction in the second quarter of the year alone, and the list is expanding. 

China saw a decline in EV sales last year, for example, long before the virus came on the stage, because it reduced subsidies. 

With the worst recession since the Second World War, it seems unrealistic that Europe sticks to its EV priorities and continue subsidizing them, even increasing the subsidies in order to make them more affordable for a recession-stricken population. The immediate future of EVs looks somewhat murky.


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