Has the Time Come for Electric Bikes

6 06 2008

At a time when cutting fuel bills is on the top of everyone’s mind, the idea of electric two-wheelers is very appealing. The electric bikes claim that they give 50-70 km on one unit of power, effectively costing 10 paise per kilometer, as against over Rs. 1 per km for a petrol-driven bike. The price of the electric two wheelers is also much lower, around Rs 15,000 -35,000. Most state governments have exempted these vehicles from registration, licence and road taxes.

 

Pushing this proposition, a number of companies have entered the market. There are merchant importers, who import CKD kits from China usually, assemble it and sell it. There are small manufacturers who manufacture a few components, procure the rest and sell it through a local/regional distribution network. There are a few committed long term players who have a vision to expand this category and seek a national footprint. Hero Motors and Ultra Motors of UK had come together as a joint venture. Now the alliance has broken and they have entered the market separately. TVS has also launched a few electric two wheeler models. The most serious and focused player in this sector appears to be Electrotherm, an Ahmedabad based company.

 

The jury is out on whether  Indian market  sees electric two wheelers as a substitute for the conventional motorcycle. Its top speed is only 25 km/hr and it can go up to a maximum distance of 75 km per charge. It can carry a payload of 75 kg only, an adult and a child max. There are infrastructure issues like charging stations and service networks. The manufacturers are still refining their models to meet the expectations of a traditional motorcycle buyer.

 

– G. Mohan.

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