Two and three wheelers in India - Statistics & Facts

Like other developing countries, India could be characterized by its rising population, mounting urbanization, a burgeoning middle class and increase in motorization. As the population grew in Indian cities, they spread outwards. Commutes to work and vice versa became longer, thereby increasing the reliance on motorized transport. Low-density decentralization created problems for public transport efficiency. Consequently, public transport across the country became more expensive and less feasible, resulting in rapid growth in the automotive population.

In 2019, the domestic industry in the south Asian country was dominated by two wheelers. The country was also the largest producer of two-wheelers across the globe. Two-wheeler sales had been on the incline in recent years, owing to the increase in traffic congestions and narrow, difficult to navigate Indian roads. Until 1958, Enfield and Automobile Products of India were the only producers of two-wheelers in the country. Until the mid-80s, the Indian two-wheeler industry had only three motorcycle manufacturers. Consequently, the market opened to international manufacturers, and the industry faced fierce competition. The gearless scooter was introduced to the citizens by Kinetic, which gained immense popularity immediately, due to its ease of handling and absence of gear switching. The Kyoto agreement changed government policies pertaining to pollution norms resulting in the demise of two-stroke two-wheelers production.
Hero MotoCorp was the leading two-wheeler manufacturer. In 2019, the company sold around 7.8 million units within the country. There has also been an increase in the demand for higher volume engine bikes. The market is maturing fast, with both domestic as well as international manufacturers launching faster variants at continuous intervals. The latest trend in the two-wheeler industry is the introduction of electric vehicles. Combined with city congestions and environmental concerns, electric two-wheelers were estimated to change the face of the industry.

Despite having a share of just three percent in the Indian automotive industry, three-wheelers across India had huge success in the past few years. The industry grew by over 20 percent in 2018. Three-wheelers like auto-rickshaws, hand-driven carts and e-rickshaws were one of the main tools for public transport in developed as well as the developing Indian states. Recent trends in e-vehicles saw a boom in e-rickshaw sales. In 2019, electric three-wheeler sales accounted for over 83 percent of the total e-vehicle sales. The e-rickshaws are the revolutionized versions of the home-grown pedal-powered ‘desi’ cycle-rickshaws. Since their legalization in 2015, e-rickshaws have fast replaced their traditional counterparts. Powered by lead-acid batteries and requiring less physical effort, they helped their drivers deal with the tremendous heat in most parts of the country. Consumers also seemed satisfied with the introduction, seeing as the change had not affected the price of commute.

With the country on its way to overtaking China to become the most populated, the amount of traffic on narrow, partially developed roads could likely be a constant grapple. The increasing number of vehicles has indeed been an indicator of a burgeoning middle class, but the issue of increasing road congestion will require some organized planning and attention from the government, especially when tackling sustainability.

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Two and three wheelers in India

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Two-wheelers: key facts

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