We caught up with Sohinder Singh Gill, CEO, Hero Electric India soon after the unveil of the Hero electric motorcycle, the Hero Electric AE-47, to ask him about the plans for product. The models shown at the Expo with the ‘AE’ prefix will get different market names that will be revealed closer to the sales launch.
Hero Electric is entering the electric motorcycle segment that is still in its infant stage. What is your expectation in terms of sales and brand impact?
SSG: We are not at all looking for any volumes here. We are looking to convey the message to enjoy electric. It needn’t be always economy with the electric vehicles and these are fun machines. They don’t give you any economic advantage as they will be costlier to run, maintain and costlier to buy. But then electric is electric.
From the conventional motorcycle users, which type of customers are you targeting for the electric motorcycle?
SSG: We are looking at youngsters, IT professionals, people who want to try out new things and not take the beaten route; those who are looking for some lifestyle statements including environment. We are targeting those for whom two-wheeler is a passion and doesn’t look into money when buying.
What is the timeline for launch of the electric motorcycle?
SSG: There are already three more launches from Hero Electric lined up for this year. I don’t know whether we will be able to fit in the motorcycle for this year.
Hero Electric is primarily an electric scooter brand and has a large dealer network for scooters. How are you preparing your dealerships for a product like this, as the customer will be quite different?
SSG: We will not be launching the electric motorcycle all over India. This product will be launched in markets where it will make sense and where the dealerships will be able to handle the product. There will be only 40 to 50 dealers for the electric motorcycle.
Have you decided on how you are going to price the product? How much is the localisation for the motorcycle?
SSG: We have but we don’t want to disclose the price now. It seems like except for the motor controller, other things are easier to get hold of (from local suppliers).
Does the Hero AE-47 motorcycle come with swappable batteries or fixed units?
SSG: Although they are swappable, the batteries are too heavy to carry. There are two units, each weighing 14 kg, making it difficult to swap.
Is Hero Electric looking to have swappable stations, like what Revolt Motors is doing with some centres?
SSG: Hero has its own stations and we can also discuss with Chetan Maini (founder of Sun Mobility) for a swapping lounge model.