India is witnessing rapid urbanization, led to increase in demand for basic services including housing, water, sanitation and transport. The total number of registered motor vehicles in India has increased rapidly over the past decade (2001–2015), from 55 million in 2001 to 192 million in 2015. The rapid increase in private vehicle ownership is mainly due to lack of good public transport facility.

Currently, there are around 1.6 million registered buses in India, out of which only 170,000 are operated by public bus operators. Only 5,000 buses are operated under PPP model for city bus operation. There is need to increase the supply of buses in Indian cities to develop sustainable public transport. However, the cities should have a larger vision to curb dependence on fossil fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. It is right time that public transport vehicles shift their source of power from diesel to electricity.

Electric buses – Introduction

The acceptance of electric and hybrid buses is slow in India, mainly due to cost factor. The average cost of hybrid or electric buses is 3-4 times higher than diesel buses. Further, with the decrease in the cost of diesel, there is not much incentive for the operators to shift to hybrid or electric buses. Some cities, like Delhi and Mumbai, are using clean fuel like CNG for the bus operation.

Another key hindrance for the introduction of electric buses is the selection of bus technology. Electric buses are classified as:

a. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) – hybrid bus

   I.  Parallel Hybrid Electric Vehicle (p-HEV)

  II.  Series Hybrid Electric Vehicle (s-HEV)

 III.  Series–parallel HEV

b.     Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) – BE bus

Comparison of different bus technologies

(Source: Electric Buses in India: Technology, Policy and Benefits, Global Green Growth Institute, 2016)

Policy Initiatives

Government of India unveiled National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 to accelerate the growth of the electric and hybrid components of the automotive sector. It focuses primarily on fast-tracking the manufacturing and introduction of EVs in India.

The Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) had launched FAME (Faster Adaptation and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles) in April 2015 to promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicles in India. As a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, FAME has a corpus of about 8 billion (US$ 123 million) to invest in electric mobility based initiatives. This fund was allocated for duration of two years and will expire in April 2017. However, an extension is being requested. DHI is considering all proposals on priority

The scheme is focused on the 4 key areas:

    (a)  Fiscal and tax eco System to encourage customers to opt for Electric Vehicles

    (b)  Purchase of Electric or Hybrid Vehicles

    (c)  Pilot Project for City Buses

    (d)  Supporting Infrastructure

As per FAME India Guidelines, the funding will be provided to cities covered under "Smart Cities" initiatives. The funding will be given in the form of Demand Incentive. The demand incentive shall be available for buyers (end users/consumers) in the form of an upfront reduced purchase price to enable wider adoption.

Procurement of Electric Buses – Current Status

Department of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises is nodal agency for the sanction of funds. MORTH has constituted a committee of joint secretaries to execute a plan to deploy 10,000 electric busses. DHI has also sanctioned the following project:

         I.      Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) has placed an order with Volvo to procure 8400 Hybrid City Bus. Volvo has delivered 5 buses under this contract to NMMT. The Volvo 8400 Hybrid Bus also complies with the central government's Faster Adoption & Manufacturing of Electric and hybrid vehicle (FAME) scheme that has helped provide a subsidy of 6.1 million (US$ 100,000) on the total cost of 23 million (US$ 375,000)

       II.       Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is procuring 25 Hybrid buses from Tata Motors. Tata Starbus Diesel Series Hybrid Electric Bus can run without the requirement of external charging infrastructures, due to integration of on- board charging, via a BSIV compliant engine & energy storage through advanced Lithium Ion Nano-Phosphate Batteries.

      III.      BEST Mumbai has received funding for the retro-fitment of 6 buses and procurement of 30 seater six electric busses with a range of 210 km. BEST has placed an order for retro-fitment with AV Motors and  Impact Automotive Solutions Limited (a subsidiary of KPIT) with a grant of 100 million from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Further, the corporation has placed an order with BYD-Goldstone and will be used the buses as feeder services to the train and metro stations

   IV.        Himachal Road Transport Corporation has received sanction from DHI to produce 25 full electric 6 seater busses. The corporation has recently conducted 10 days trial of midi electric bus in Manali-Rohtang pass and is quite convinced with electric bus technology at such high altitude of 13,000 ft. The state has also granted exemption from token tax, registration charges and value-added tax on all electric vehicles for five years to promote eco-friendly transport services in the state.

     V.       Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation's (BMTC) has also submitted proposal with DHI to procure 150 electric buses on PPP model. BMTC has proposed to set up an exclusive depot for the electric buses with the required infrastructure, which would include battery rechargeable points and well-equipped workshops.

   VI.        Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) has approved the plan to introduce 100 electric buses on PPP model. The private operator will purchase and operate these buses for 10 year on selected routes. The operator will have the first right to select the routes. TMT banner and the ticket rates will be the same as approved by the Metropolitan Transport Authority.


FAME is largely catered to private sector investment. The department has received the following proposals:

         I.      Bus leasing model - Myntra and Goldstone Technologies

       II.       Scooter Taxi in Goa (Electric)

      III.      Employee Commute pilot (Electric Car) - Lithium

   IV.        Last mile connectivity (Electric Auto-rickshaw) -  Clean Motion

Green Urban Transport Scheme

Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India will launch "Green Urban Transport Scheme", enabling a shift towards electric vehicles for public transport and use of non-fossil fuel for powering vehicles. Total cost of the project will be around INR 800 billion (US$ 12.5 billion).

The government will give funding to 105 cities which will be selected through competition. The funding of the scheme will be 50:50 between states and the central government. The ministry has proposed a grant of INR 250 billion (US$ 3.85 billion), rest may come from multi-lateral banks and state governments.  

Manufacturing of electric buses

The local manufacturing of the electric buses is also picking up some momentum as International players are entering into tie-up with Indian companies to setup assembly units in India. Some of key tieup are:

Local Manufacturer

International Partner

Ashok Leyland Limited

Optare, United Kingdom

JBM Auto Limited

Solaris Bus & Coach, Poland

Deccan Auto Limited

Zhongtong Auto Co, China

Goldstone Infratech Ltd

BYD Auto Industry Co, China


Presentation on "Future of Electric Buses - E-Bus"

(Contributed by: Mr. CK Goyal, AVP (Road Transport), DIMTS Limtied - Electric Bus Expert)