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Robots on wheels, Trends shaping the electric two-wheeler space

Things such as stability control, ABS, rider ergonomics (comfortable seat height and riding position) will start getting centre-stage as electric two-wheelers get more popular

Robots on wheels, Trends shaping the electric two-wheeler space

EV financing, augmented reality helmets and the Internet of things (IoT), among others, will shape the electric two-wheeler industry

Things such as stability control, ABS, rider ergonomics (comfortable seat height and riding position) will start getting centre-stage as electric two-wheelers get more popular

The pandemic has dramatically changed the buying behaviour of people, who have taken to online shopping across product categories, and in two-wheelers there is a clear shift happening towards electric vehicles (EVs). Sumit Chhazed, the co-founder & CEO of OTO—the two-wheeler financing start-up—shared with FE the trends that will shape the electric two-wheeler space and overall EVs this year and beyond. “EV financing, augmented reality helmets and the Internet of things (IoT), among others, will shape the electric two-wheeler industry,” he said.

EV financing
“The share of EVs that got registered in 2021 was just 1.7% of internal combustion engine vehicles, but from FY20 to FY21, electric two-wheelers grew in sales by 422%, electric three-wheelers by 75% and electric four-wheelers by 230%. At present, at least 80 brands exist in the EV space,” Chhazed said. “With rising sales of EVs, the NBFCs and lending institutions that were earlier hesitant to extend loans to EV customers are coming up with innovative financing options.”

E-commerce and omnichannel
Chhazed said that pre-pandemic data suggested only 32% people responded positively to the purchase of vehicles online, but now almost 61% wish to do so online. Brands like Ola and Bounce have been utilising their digital platforms in a big way, from product launch to product updates to customer communication to the date of sale of vehicles. Their success has prompted both other start-ups and even legacy brands to adopt the e-commerce model for EVs.

Design and control
“Things such as stability control, anti-lock braking system (ABS), rider ergonomics (comfortable seat height and riding position) will start getting centre-stage as electric two-wheelers get more popular,” Chhazed said. “As also things such as augmented reality helmets.”

AR helmet
Some companies are focusing a lot on making the interaction between the two-wheeler and the rider seamless. “Here, AR helmets can play a major role,” Chhazed said. “For instance, the Altor Smart helmet is equipped with touch-enabled function, Bluetooth connectivity, audio navigation, emergency SOS, and accident detection and alerts. We can witness many more brands entering this space this year.”

The IoT
Today, an electric two-wheeler rider can operate some features of her two-wheeler using a mobile app. It is also possible to book a scooter ride from anywhere using a mobile app, get a digital key or password to activate the scooter, and once you are done with the ride, park it at the designated station and make payment via the app. “In the coming months, we can witness widespread accessibility of such convenience features,” Chhazed said. “Vehicle-to-vehicle communication is another feature that has been made possible thanks to the IoT.

In the future, vehicles can actively communicate with each other in case of an emergency.”With each passing month, we are experiencing unheard of customer-facing digital technologies in electric two-wheelers—something that never happened in the case of petrol two-wheelers, where the biggest focus of manufacturers was on enhancing fuel efficiency. “With manufacturers competing amongst themselves to outdo each other and bring in vehicles with enhanced and advanced technology features, expect to see electric two-wheelers that behave almost like entry-level robots on wheels in the months ahead,” Chhazed said.

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