EXCLUSIVE! Honda Activa electric review: The 95km range, zero maintenance scooter

This electric Honda Activa has a claimed 90km range and the modification costs less than Rs 50,000 with a two-year warranty.

By:Updated: January 15, 2020 12:21:09 PM

Wow! This feels just like any other electric two-wheeler I have ridden. It is decently quick off the line, doesn’t have much to offer slightly higher up an settles in a cruise with literally no road noise to accompany it. I am riding India’s most sold scooter, the Honda Activa but in an electric avatar. No, this isn’t done by HMSI but by a bunch of blokes from Nashik. The team has a company called Emmortal Automotive and literally every member is a fresh engineering college passout. Why an electric Activa, I ask them. Dhaval Tagare, one of the co-founders, says that during their college days, it was a struggle to fill their two-wheelers and pollution too was rampant. That’s when the  using an electric vehicle struck him. Dhaval, Onkar Sonawane and Mayur Shelar, the three co-founders of Emmortal Automotives, then did some research. Performance, speed and reliability, something that a youngster wants, was missing though. If one needs the same, the price will skyrocket. Instead a conventional vehicle, preferably a sportsbike, makes more sense.

 

It is when the team thought of putting their old vehicles, which would otherwise have fetched them Rs 1000 as scrap value, to good use came in to picture. The conversion of an old fossil fuel-powered vehicle to an electric one, was the brainwave. In this fashion, one more new vehicle will not come into the market and at the same time, an old two-wheeler will be recycled. Performance can be eked on demand and plus the nostalgia of your own old two-wheeler still fitting in the current scene with a new powertrain was alluring. More important is that there isn’t pollution too. All this, within the Rs 40,000 price bracket! Yeah, the Activa prototype that I was riding was made for just under Rs 50,000, excluding the donor bike.

Aside from nostalgia, why will anyone want to even convert their vehicle to electric?

Dhaval elaborates that in the aforementioned amount, not only is a new powertrain fitted in but also the entire vehicle is refurbished. For example, if the motorcycle has a rusting chassis, then it is first treated. The wires are also thoroughly checked and replaced. In the meanwhile, energy-saving LEDs replace the regular halogen bulbs and based on the condition, the tyres too are replaced. The meters are new as well since the charge as well as range have to be displayed. In a flat three days, the “modified” vehicle will be delivered to the customer. The motor, controller as well as battery have a two year warranty from their respective makers. Extended warranty too is provided at a price, the extension is for five years.

Sounds good! What is the lowdown on the powertrain?

The motor is a 1000 watts unit. A 24ah li-ferrophosphate battery is pressed in to service and sits under the seat. The latter has a 40-degree operating temperature and the team tells me that it is the optimum range. The motor makes 5hp of power and 9Nm. This is more than enough for what will essentially be a city run-about. The range? 90km in eco mode and 80km in power. Yes, there are two associated modes, activated through a button next to where the thumb starter (redundant) is. You twist the key to the on position and the e-Activa is good to go. The top speed in power mode is 60kmph and in eco at 40kmph. This battery pack is swappable and weighs 12kg. The charging time quoted is 4hrs, with a regular socket. With the fast charger, the charging time reduces to just 2.3hrs. The battery controller nestles in the front compartment of the Activa.

On the move, the electric Activa seems perky and like other electric vehicles, is very silent. Perhaps, the team can fit on a louder horn or something to warn people on the road. The prototype I rode was a crudely made one – Onkar’s daily rider for that matter. It didn’t even have a range indicator. A proper meter console that displays the range is already in the mail. Onkar says that they have built four such vehicles including an Access. A Discover is being converted, as I write this.  These vehicles run in and around Nashik. So far, no problems have been reported by any of the vehicle owners.

The pickup was fairly good while the brakes (no regenerative system dialled in) seemed a bit weak. Mayur says that there has been adjustment done to the swingarm. The petrol engine removed, helps shave weight – crucial to the functioning of an electric vehicle. This electric Activa now weighs barely 70kg.

Why aren’t you a mass vehicle maker yet?

The same old story. Finance. Currently, E-mmortal Automotive is running on a shoestring budget. They are supported by their college mentor, Akbar, as well as own finances. The team, like every other middle-class household, is on an ultimatum. To find “a stable job”. Mayur quips in that they are planning to make their own electric vehicle and work is going on in their small lathe facility too. However, for that they will also need ARAI certification. Dhaval adds that the certification requires more than Rs 15-20 lakh investment on one vehicle. The ideas, the procurement of parts from China as well as Taiwan and to ensure that these prototypes live to see another day is something that E-mmortal Automotive has been fighting for on a daily basis. I hope, the next time I meet them, a well designed electric two-wheeler concept should greet me.

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