Electric mobility: Can FY22 be the tipping point for electric scooters?
E-scooters available in India include Ola S1 and S1 Pro, Simple Energy One, TVS iQube, Bajaj Chetak, Ather 450X, PureEV Epluto, and models from Hero Electric, Ampere, BGauss and Okinawa, among others. Most are priced less than Rs 1 lakh after revised FAME II subsidies
With Ola Electric launching the S1 and S1 Pro on August 15 and Simple Energy launching the Simple One the same day, today there is no dearth of choice for people who want to move to electric
mobility on two wheels.
In addition to the above-mentioned models, other major electric scooters available in India include TVS iQube, Bajaj Chetak, Ather 450X, PureEV Epluto, and a host of models from Hero Electric, Ampere, BGauss and Okinawa, among others—most are priced less than Rs 1 lakh after revised FAME II subsidies.
All these are high-speed models.
In India, electric two-wheelers fall under two broad categories—low speed and high speed. The more affordable low-speed ones (priced Rs 25,000 onwards) have a top speed of up to 25 km/h and riding range of 45-75 km; these are exempted from registration and do not need a driving licence to ride. High-speed ones are expensive, have top speeds in excess of 100 km/h and a long range; the Simple One, for example, has a claimed range of 236 km on a single charge.
Auto analysts FE talked to said that low-speed ones include a lot of rebranded Chinese models and are primarily used by e-commerce players, while high-speed ones are getting popular with personal buyers.
The revised FAME II subsidy—Rs 15,000 per kWh (the cap on maximum subsidy is 40% of the price of the vehicle)—covers only high-speed ones; according to the policy document, those that have a minimum range of 80 km and top speed of 40 km/h and above are eligible.
For example, the S1 (priced Rs 85,099 in Delhi) has a battery capacity of 2.98 kWh and thus under FAME II it has theoretically gotten cheaper by about Rs 45,000 from what would have been its original price.
Preetam Mohan Singh, senior vice-president, Automotive, Praxis Global Alliance, said that with revised FAME II providing higher subsidies to EVs, we will see a steady increase in their sales, especially of electric two-wheelers, in CY21. “The current interest is primarily from personal buyers for electric two-wheelers, and commercial buyers for electric three-wheelers,” he said.
Saket Mehra, partner, Grant Thornton Bharat, added that the market share of electric two-wheelers has increased to 0.37% in FY21 (up from 0.16% in FY20), and this means there is huge potential for their growth. “With electric two-wheelers being increasingly leveraged as a means of local transport by consumers, and with revised FAME II reducing their sticker price further, it is hopeful that FY22 will be a tipping point for electric two-wheelers, leading to mass adoption,” he said.
While most players are setting up their own charging stations—Hero Electric, for example, said it has installed over 1,650 charging stations and plans to increase it to 20,000 in two years—analysts said the convenience of charging an electric two-wheeler at home is a key driver of their rising sales, considering that petrol stations may be spread far and wide especially in rural areas.
Sameer Aggarwal, founder & CEO of RevFin, a fintech company that offers EV loans, told FE that a lot of electric two-wheelers can be charged at home on a regular three-pin socket, so charging is not a real constraint. “There are 200 million households in India, and this means there are over 200 million charging points in India,” he said.
At the same time, charging infrastructure leads to peace of mind.
Earlier, Naveen Munjal, the MD of Hero Electric, had told FE: “Wherever we’ve installed charging stations, sales in that area have gone up tremendously, even though we’ve noticed that a lot of customers don’t really use charging infrastructure because they are charging at their homes.”
Scooters versus motorcycles
While electric scooters are getting popular (in terms of players entering this space), electric motorcycles are not—the ones available in India are Revolt Motors (RV300 and RV400) and Kabira Mobility (KM 3000 and KM 4000), and those under development are Ultraviolette Automotive (F77) and Tork Motors (T6X). One of the reasons is that the profile of a motorcycle buyer is different. Analysts said that, in addition to short local trips, motorcycles also cater to buyers who do inter-city journeys, and so they will always have range anxiety. Scooters, on the other hand, are primarily used for local trips. “Electric scooters, instead of electric motorcycles, will get popular with the masses to being with,” said one analyst.