Electrification of 2- and 3-Wheeled Transport in Visakhapatnam

The team was selected by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to develop a Smart City Framework Plan and electrification of two- and three-wheeled transport for Visakhapatnam and its surrounding 5,500 km2 region. The team developed benchmarks, frameworks, processes, and implementation for the state of Andhra Pradesh to build on Visakhapatnam’s thriving logistics, software, education, tourism, and health industries and create a framework for achieving ambitious economic development and quality of life goals. The team expanded on previous projects in Visakhapatnam to address social, economic, mobility, energy, transport, and water concerns and aspirations at the regional scale as well as through ICT-enabled sector-specific urban infrastructure projects. The Smart City Plan extends and improves trunk infrastructures and public transit networks, upgrades water supply and sewage treatment systems, mitigates climate change-related risks, and develops a disaster preparedness plan for the city.

The goal of this project was to improve air quality through reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with transportation, specifically, 2-wheel and 3-wheel vehicles. This goal was consistent with Visakhapatnam’s socioeconomic development vision, as approved by Chief Minister Naidu in June 2016, which called for Green Living and Smart Business. The project contributes to Green Living by preserving and enhancing the natural environment (specifically, air quality). It also contributes to Smart Business by creating economic development opportunities in the manufacturing, distribution, retailing and servicing of electric vehicles in the Greater Visakhapatnam Region.

Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

Government of Andhra Pradesh
U.S. Trade & Development Agency

Project management and technical advisement as part of AECOM team


Air Quality

Air pollution was identified by local residents during the preparation of Visakhapatnam’s Smart Cities challenge proposal as one of the main urban problems facing the city. Substituting electric vehicles for diesel powered auto-rickshaws and gas-powered scooters and small motorcycles will reduce emissions from these types of vehicles to zero. However, some of the reduction will be offset by greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by coal-burning power plants, the source of most electricity in Andhra Pradesh. In addition to the environmental benefits, lowering GHG emissions in Visakhapatnam will contribute indirectly to human health because cleaner air will help lower rates of respiratory disease such as emphysema.


Market conditions are generally ripe for large-scale introduction of electric vehicles in India. The cost of vehicles and the batteries that they run on continue to drop substantial every year. A number of manufacturers are making 2-, 3- and 4-wheel electric vehicles in India. The national policy environment is also supportive, as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) program, which offers purchase incentives for clean fuel technology cars intended to boost sales to 7 million vehicles by 2020.


AECOM carried out demand-side analysis of autorickshaw owner/ drivers by interviewing 15 drivers on the street and at Visakhapatnam main railway station in a pre-survey, and then conducting a focus group with 40 autorickshaw owners and drivers convened at GVMC in September 2017. The results of the survey and the focus group are presented in Appendix A. The overarching findings are that rickshaw owner/drivers are generally willing to switch to electric vehicles under the following conditions:

  1. E-rickshaws loaded with six passengers and a driver must be able to climb Visakhapatnam’s steep hills;

  2. A battery-swapping system must be in place OR a network of charging stations around the city must be developed;

  3. The cost of purchasing and operating an e-rickshaw must be competitive with the price of diesel rickshaws.

At present, only the third condition has been satisfied. The purchase price of e-rickshaws is about the same as that of diesel autorickshaws. Moreover, the energy costs of operating e-rickshaws is much less than that of conventional vehicles (between 1/25th and 1/50th the cost, depending on the vehicle). Drivers are generally aware that e-rickshaws are cheaper to operate, but they do not know how large the potential savings is.

Promoting the electrification of 2W and 3W vehicles requires not just the sale of electric vehicles in the local market, but rather the creation of a supportive ecosystem for their sale, storage, operation and maintenance. The initiative has to be feasible and satisfactory for a number of different parties: for owners and drivers of the electric vehicles; for the customers of the e-rickshaws; for the manufacturers and distributors of the vehicles; and for the developer / operators of networks of charging stations or battery-swapping shops. In response to that requirement, the following four components have been included in the program: first, through EV product development; second, through EV demand enhancement; third, through development of EV battery recharging infrastructure by introducing a EV battery swapping program or by developing a network of charging stations; and fourth, by phasing out of conventional 2W and 3W vehicles.