Aggressive bids by Tata Motors for supply of electric buses for city transport saw the prices of the vehicles drop significantly.

The nine-metre-long electric buses quoted as low as ₹85 lakh and the 12-metre ones at ₹98 lakh, against the normal listed price of ₹1.6 crore and ₹2.1 crore, respectively.

The prices of the winning quotes of e-buses are close to that of luxury diesel-powered inter-State transport buses.

If the current prices are any indication, electric bus sourcing is in for a major shift, according to auto industry sources.

With these quotes, Tata Motors has become L1 bidder in six cities, and the Goldstone-BYD combine bagged three cities for supply of electric buses in nine of the 11 chosen for pilot multi-modal public transport project under FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) India.

The Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises had extended a subsidy of ₹437 crore to 11 cities under the FAME India for the launch of electric vehicles to encourage the States to invite tenders.

Gross cost contract

In the tenders floated by nine of the 11 cities with one million-plus population, Tata Motors has bagged six cities — Indore, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kolkata, Guwahati and Jammu — five of which are outright sale, and one on gross cost contract (GCC). Goldstone-BYD has bagged all the three — Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai — under GCC.

In the tenders opened on February 28, these two companies outbid others, which included M&M, Ashok Leyland, Eicher Motors, sources close to the development told BusinessLine .

While Tata Motors will supply 190 electric buses, Goldstone, which partnered Chinese major BYD, will provide 290 buses.

It was proposed to offer 40 buses for each city under the pilot project. However, TSRTC in Hyderabad has decided to take 100 buses, Bengaluru is considering 150 buses, and Mumbai is sticking to 40.

While Ahmedabad is in the process of finalising, in the case of Delhi, where the courts have directed it to consider EVs, they are likely to come up with a much larger tender of procuring about 1,000 buses, another source requesting anonymity said.

In the case of outright purchase, the Centre provides 60 per cent subsidy and the rest is provided by the State road transport corporations. With most of the RTCs under financial stress, they are looking at GCC, where the buses would be operated and maintained by the supplier at a fixed cost per km.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has finalised Goldstone-BYD, where six others were in fray, for 40 buses, where the corporation will pay ₹37.5 per km. Just to compare this with other luxury bus service, it works out to about ₹50 a km. Likewise, TSRTC has also chosen Goldstone for supply of 40 buses in Hyderabad, also under GCC.

The buses are being offered in two configurations of nine and 12 meters, with the latter having the capacity to seat 42 passengers.

The BMTC had invited tenders for 150 e-buses and it expects to get ₹1 crore as subsidy per bus from the Centre.

A source pointed out that while at ₹85 lakh, the EVs’ cost compares with some of the luxury diesel buses, their durability has to be tested in tough Indian conditions.

“If these manage to achieve similar reliability and durability, in major metros like Delhi, where there is growing concern about vehicular pollution, the entire fleet may be upgraded to EVs. We believe they are robust and durable as they have far less moving parts,” the source pointed out.

These buses may be deployed in a phased manner over the next three to six months.