Hero Electric Managing Director, Naveen Munjal recently had an interaction with Sirish Chandran of Fast Bikes India on Instagram.com and talked about the rollout plans of previously showcased vehicles.
On the Hero AE-47 electric motorcycle showcased at the Auto Expo 2020:
About the AE-47 motorcycle, it is ready and we can launch it in the next six months but we may push it back slightly, simply because that market is too small and a very niche market at this point. If you look at it, the EV market itself is so small and in that there’s a small fragment of high speed vehicles. It doesn’t justify the cost and the efforts that you are going to put in to launch that kind of a vehicle and to sell it. Because the dealership experience has to be similar and when you have a motorcycle of that calibre and looks, you expect performance. You don’t expect the vehicle to go at 45, 50 or 60 km/h. You would want to see more pickup and rev from a bike like that. The minute you do that, it eats into your battery crazily. The cost is going to be more expensive or double the price of an ICE vehicle. And on top of that, if you are going to replace the battery at a later stage, it’s going to be extremely expensive. The battery will not be a portable one with that kind of performance.
So we are ready for it but we are holding back our plans because we are focusing on the mass volume vehicles rather than the niche segment. We have numerous such platforms which are ready for launch and we may launch them over the next year or two years depending on the market situation.
Electric motorcycle or electric scooter – which is better?
Large volumes of people haven’t seen an electric motorcycle or a scooter. If you look at the two-wheeler market at a global level, whether it’s Asia or Europe, majority is the scooter market or the step-through scooter market. It’s only in India where the majority is motorcycles and scooters are a smaller segment. It is now changing and scooters are growing at a much faster rate than motorcycles. Motorcycles were sought after because of their bigger wheels and it mattered because we didn’t have proper roads. This is changing as we have good roads now and good infrastructure. And in a way, the scooter is a far more practical product. I don’t know when this is going to change, even within the ICE segment. If you look at other markets where they use two-wheelers like Spain, Italy and even in parts of Asia, majority of the commuter market is all scooters and its only the larger vehicles that are motorcycles.
We believe that the scooter for electric is a far better form factor than motorcycles. The perception of motorcycle is you want performance and speed and also the way the batteries are stacked. In motorcycles, if you keep the batteries where the fuel tank is, the centre of gravity goes up and that causes imbalance. Whereas in a scooter, the batteries are below the seat or below the footrest or somewhere in the lower part of the frame and gives you a lower centre of gravity. So even if you put a 2 or 3 kWh battery, that’s 30 kg and if you put that higher up, the centre of gravity changes. So you want the battery to be as low as possible and scooters are better suited for this.