One in three households in India owns a two-wheeler

A majority of car owners prefer to use a two-wheeler to reach work, according to the ICE 360° survey 2016


Households in the top quintile account for a majority of the cars and more than a third of two-wheelers in the country. Photo: Reuters
Households in the top quintile account for a majority of the cars and more than a third of two-wheelers in the country. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: The proportion of car-owning households in the country was 5%, according to the 2011 census data. That proportion has more than doubled, and stands at 11% today as per the ICE 360° survey 2016. The proportion of two-wheeler owners has increased 15 percentage points to 36%, while the proportion of bicycle owners has increased 13 percentage points since 2011 to 58%, the survey shows.

Households in the top quintile account for a majority of the cars and more than a third of two-wheelers in the country. The top 10% accounts for 46% of the cars and 22% of two-wheelers in India. The bottom quintile, which is the poorest 20%, accounts for a majority of the bicycles in the country, as per the survey. Households having a motorcycle or a scooter or a scooty or a moped have been categorized as owning a two-wheeler in this analysis.

A notable feature of the ICE 360° survey is that it is representative at the level of economic clusters. Urban India has been divided into four clusters: metros (population more than 5 million), boom towns (2.5 to 5 million), niche cities (1 to 2.5 million) and other urban towns (less than 1 million).

Based on a district development index, rural India has been sub-divided into three different clusters: ‘developed rural’, ‘emerging rural’, and ‘under-developed rural’. The first category includes districts such as Bathinda (Punjab) and Kangra (Himachal Pradesh). The second category includes districts such as Latur (Maharashtra) and Kamrup (Assam) while the last category includes districts such as Kalahandi (Odisha) and Bastar (Chhattisgarh).

Big cities, which include all million-plus cities (metros, boom towns, and niche cities), together account for 40% of car owners. Developed rural areas account for a greater share of car owners in the country than smaller urban centres, the survey shows.

More than half of the households in developed rural areas own a two-wheeler, and roughly a quarter of them own a car. The comparative ratios for metros are nearly identical. The share of households owning a two-wheeler in emerging rural areas is only a little less than the share of households owning a two-wheeler in smaller urban centres, the ICE 360° survey shows.

A two-wheeler is the vehicle of choice for most Indians in their daily commute to work, the survey suggests, followed by the bicycle. Thirty-three per cent of Indians use a two-wheeler to reach work while 31% use a bicycle. Fourteen per cent reach work by a public bus while only 3% use a local train (or metro) to reach their place of work.

The bicycle is the vehicle of choice for the poorest quintile for their daily commute while for the richest quintile the two-wheeler is the vehicle of choice for reaching work. More among the rich use public transport for their daily commute compared to the poor. The proportion of people in the top quintile who use public transport to reach work is nearly twice the proportion of people in the bottom quintile who use public transport for their commute to work.

In metros, 22% use a public bus and 11% use a local train (or metro) to reach work. The proportion of people using auto-rickshaws is higher than those using personal cars and higher than those using hired cabs to reach work in metros, the survey shows. Thirty-seven per cent of people in metros use two-wheelers to reach work, the data shows.

Even car owners seem to prefer using the two-wheeler while travelling to work, the survey suggests. The proportion of car owners who use their own car to travel to work is relatively lower, and is equal to the proportion of car owners who use public transport (bus, train, or metro) to reach work.

The ICE 360° survey was conducted by the independent not-for-profit organization, People Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE), headed by two of India’s best-known consumer economy experts, Rama Bijapurkar and Rajesh Shukla. The survey is among the largest consumer economy surveys in the country.

The urban sample of the survey is comparable to that of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) consumer expenditure survey conducted in 2011-12. While the NSSO surveyed 101,651 households, of which 41,968 (41.3%) were urban households, the ICE 360° survey covered 61,000 households, of which 36,000 (59%) are urban households. The rural sample of the ICE 360° survey is less than half of the NSSO sample. Nonetheless, all the estimates of each region have been derived by adjusting for the respective population of those regions.

Tadit Kundu in Mumbai contributed to this story.

This is the eighth of a 16-part data journalism series on how India lives, thinks, earns and spends, based on the latest results from the ICE 360° survey (www.ice360.in) conducted by People Research on India’s Consumer Economy (PRICE) in 2016. The next part will look at household ownership of consumer durables.

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