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Electric Scooters: A Green Footprint

Electric Scooters: A Green Footprint

Two-wheelers, A major source of pollution

Two-wheelers constitute nearly 80% of the total vehicle sales in Bharat. The two-wheeler market is dominated by internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. They account for almost 60% of Bharat’s petroleum consumption. (https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/fuel-consumption-2w-india-aug2021.pdf). They contribute a significant portion of GHG emissions (greenhouse gas emissions).

Electric scooters, A viable option

Electric scooters are being promoted as a sustainable option for internal combustion engine (ICE) two-wheelers. Electric scooters have no tailpipe emissions and are, without doubt, a boon for urban and semi-urban areas. Tailpipe gases include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide. These are greenhouse gases.

These gases trap heat and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere. They are a significant factor in global warming. These gases are also very harmful to health and are responsible for many respiratory problems in urban and semi-urban populations. Thus, switching to electric scooters makes sense in many ways.

Carbon Footprint

However, tailpipe emissions are not the only factor in a vehicle’s life cycle emissions. Both petroleum and electricity production release harmful greenhouse gases in the process of extracting, refining, producing, and transporting the fuel. Polluting gasses are also released when decommissioning (discarding/recycling) vehicles. Carbon footprint takes into account the polluting impact of a product’s cradle-to-grave cycle.

The carbon footprint of a combustion engine two-wheeler, thus, starts from the production and transportation of petroleum, continues through emissions during manufacturing of the two-wheeler and tailpipe emissions, and ends with pollution caused in the process of discarding or recycling of the vehicle or its parts.

Similarly, the carbon footprint of electric vehicles has to consider the environmental cost of electricity production and distribution along with the ecological impact while manufacturing the two-wheeler and electric battery and, finally, decommissioning the battery and vehicle body. The source of electricity impacts the carbon footprint of an electric two-wheeler.

Let us understand the carbon footprints of electric two-wheelers and ICE two-wheelers through a comparative study. Table 1 and its explanatory note are cited/based on research conducted by Sunitha Anup and Ashok Das.

(Ref. source: https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/fuel-consumption-2w-india-aug2021.pdf)

The table represents life-cycle GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions of electric and ICE two-wheelers in Bharat registered in 2021.
Type ICE Small
(97.2 cc)
(3.5 kWh)
(2.7 kWh)
ICE scooter
(109.5 cc)
(2.9 kWh)
Well-to-tank g CO2 eq./km 11.0 28.7 21.7 12.8 31.7
Tank-to-wheel g CO2 eq./km 38.3 0.0 0.0 43.4 0.0
Vehicle production g CO2 eq./km 4.9 5.0 3.9 4.7 4.2
Battery production g CO2 eq./km 0.0 2.0 1.6 0.0 1.7
Total g CO2 eq./km 54.2 35.7 27.1 60.9 37.5
Life-cycle GHG savings compared to ICE - 34.1% 50.0% - 38.4%


This table summarises the life-cycle GHG emissions of two-wheelers with electric and ICE power trains for vehicles registered in Bharat in FY 2020-21. It considers the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) life-cycle GHG emission factors of different electricity generation technologies and reflects the projected improvement in the electricity mix in Bharat according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) stated policy Scenario, which includes transmission and distribution losses in the electricity grids. While the ICE motorcycle and scooter correspond to the market average in FY 2021, the electric models are represented depending on various battery capabilities available in the current market.

The above analysis includes CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide emissions. These are mostly translated into grams of CO2 equivalent (g CO2 eq) based on 100-year global warming potential.
This study indicates a positive impact of electric vehicles on the environment even when emissions of the cradle-to-grave cycle are taken into account. The GHG savings of the electric scooter are 38.4% compared to ICE.

The carbon footprint of electric two-wheelers can increase further with proper decommissioning of electric batteries. The Government of Bharat is encouraging the reuse or recycling of electrical batteries. These batteries can be used for energy storage or fitted behind a meter gauge. They can be recycled by extracting the raw material to manufacture new batteries.

Supporting Infrastructure

  • Self-reliance in lithium-ion batteries

    We all realise that electrification is a very definitive step towards improving the carbon footprint of two-wheelers. However, the electrification of two-wheelers needs a supportive infrastructure. Bharat has been reliant on neighbouring countries like China, Japan, and Korea for components like EV batteries, semiconductors, and battery management systems used in electric vehicles. Though the trend is shifting with Bharatiya manufacturers entering the domain of lithium-ion batteries, the reliance on imports is still very heavy.

    (With inputs from: (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/breaking-down-the-reasons-why-indian-electric-vehicles-require-batteries-made-in-india/)

    To reduce the dependency on imported ACC batteries (lithium-ion batteries) for electric vehicles, the Government of Bharat has launched the PIL (Production Linked Incentive) Scheme for the manufacture of ACC (Advance Chemistry Cell). The total outlay of the Scheme is Rs. 18,100 Crore for a period of 5 years from 2021 to 2026. The Scheme envisages establishing a competitive ACC battery manufacturing setup in the country (50 GWh).

    (Ref. source: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1946679)

  • Charging facilities

    Another important pillar of electrification infrastructure is the facility to charge batteries. The currently available two-wheelers need four to five hours of charging to fuel a range of around 100 to 250 km. Presently, two-wheelers are mostly charged at home. Bharat has a network of 934 charging stations and its information can be obtained online. (https://e-amrit.niti.gov.in/charging-map) We have a long way to go vis-avis- public charging infrastructures. However, home charging is also a very convenient option that works well for two-wheelers, especially because the charging time is four to five hours.

Consumer Preferences

  • Though keen to use more eco-friendly options, consumers have been a bit guarded when choosing electric bikes. However, with reduced buying costs, faster charging times, higher range, and higher speed options, the market for electric scooters is increasing quickly. Increased ‘range’ is a very important feature that has boosted consumer confidence by dispelling the fear of getting stranded due to a discharged battery.

  • Electric scooters also offer consumers several interesting features. Electric scooters now have lighter bodies, better ground clearance, tubeless tyres, better suspension, torque, and payloads. Fancy features such as keyless start, reverse gear, remote lock, burglar alarms, GPS navigation, smartphone integration, and remote diagnostics are also great attractions for buyers.

A Green Footprint

All measures put together are yielding results. There is continuous growth in electric two-wheeler registrations in Bharat. According to VAHAN, the Government’s transportation data portal, electric two-wheeler (EV2W) sales in the country jumped 36.07 percent to 8,59,269 units in 2023, which is higher than 6,31,476 units in 2022.


Electric two-wheelers are on the way to revolutionise urban and semi-urban commuting scenario by providing a cheaper and non-polluting option. Electric vehicles will give us healthier environments in urban and semi-urban areas where their numbers are concentrated. They already have a more favorable carbon footprint than ICE two-wheelers, and conscious effort by governments, manufacturers, and researchers is helping the world evolve models with distinct green footprints.

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