India’s top two-wheeler brands are developing electric vehicles and while some have been vocal about plans, others have said they would need time to make them public as the marketing teams study India and watch how consumers are reacting to existing electric vehicles before firming up their strategies.
In this story we lay out every bit of information that has been reported on the electric scooter & electric motorcycle plans of India’s top two-wheeler brands.
TVS Motor Company whizzed into the electric scooter market with the launch of iQube in January 2020. The iQube is powered by a 3 kWh Li-Ion battery pack wired to an electric motor that puts out 5.9 hp and 140 Nm at the wheel. The iQube offers a range of 75 km in Eco Mode and has a top speed of 78 km/h. TVS has equipped the iQube with SmartXonnect system which can be accessed through an app to view information like battery charge status, range, navigation assist, parked location, geofencing and more. Other features include reverse park assist, economy and power driving modes, fully digital instrument cluster, front and rear disc brake etc. Priced at Rs 1.15 lakh ex-showroom, the iQube is currently offered in Bangalore only but more cities are being planned for launch.
Second wave of TVS scooters to arrive in due course
Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director, TVS Motor, has said that the company is looking to cover three to four more cities by the end of 2020 with the iQube. Venu also confirmed that TVS plans a portfolio of electric vehicles and has earmarked about Rs 200 crore for their electric vehicle program.
While it may be the largest two-wheeler brand in India, Hero MotoCorp will take some more time to get its first electric scooter into dealer showrooms. We have already reported that the first electric scooter from Hero MotoCorp will be the eMaestro. The electric scooter is being called the eMaestro Proto (for now) and was showcased at the Hero World 2020. Based on the Maestro Edge, the eMaestro Proto has its own differentiating elements like the blacked-out headlamps and copper brown-finished wheels, front suspension and motor hub. It features a ride-mode selector in the left handle grip where the modes can be selected by twisting it. Chances are also there for the Proto to get the same powertrain from Ather 450X as Hero MotoCorp does have a stake in Ather Energy. To be launched in 2021, Hero MotoCorp will be looking to undercut its rivals with the pricing to make up for the late entry into the segment.
Chetak was brought back into life with the electric version and Bajaj has already begun deliveries of the e-scooter in Pune and Bangalore. Priced at Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.15 lakh ex-showroom for its Urbane and Premium variants respectively, Bajaj Chetak gets a 4 kW motor and offers a range of 95 km in Eco mode. Bajaj is planning to make the scooter available in metros like Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai soon.
Bajaj to develop low cost (B2B) scooter for Yulu
Bajaj Auto will be developing a low-cost electric scooter for Yulu, a shared e-mobility service start-up. The e-scooter is expected to be priced at Rs 35,000 and will be launched in 2021.
New Bajaj Chetak variant extensions on the company’s mind
Performance versions of the e-scooter are already in testing and Bajaj will be launching Chetak with better acceleration, top speed and added features too. Rakesh Sharma, Executive Director, Bajaj Auto, has already confirmed that the company is working on more Chetak models and the prototypes are already in the pipeline.
India’s best-selling scooter brand Honda will also be launching its own electric scooters but for now, it will be studying the market testing one of its electric scooters from China. We are in the dark regarding the model that Honda will import, but YS Guleria, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India has told that the Honda could develop an indigenous line of electric scooters once the company is done with the feasibility study.
Last year, Suzuki Motorcycle’s VP of Sales, Marketing and After Sales, Devashish Handa reportedly confirmed that the Suzuki electric two-wheeler project is already underway but there was no confirmation regarding the launch timeline with late-2021 identified as a possible period for its showcase. Though there is no confirmation that Suzuki’s first electric two-wheeler could be a scooter, the acceptance of the Access 125 would have influenced the decision. And now patent images of a Suzuki electric scooter are doing the rounds in the web that shows the bare layout of a scooter. Reports suggest that this is intended for markets like India and feature basic design and mechanical parts to control the cost.
Yamaha Motor has a small selection of electric scooters in its global line. Like Honda, Yamaha is conducting a feasibility study for electric two-wheelers in India. According to Yasuo Ishihara, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Research and Development, India, Yamaha won’t be bringing EVs for the next two years. The Yamaha EC-05 electric scooter, which was launched in Taiwan in 2019, looks like a product that can be adapted to India if an entry is decided. The EC-05 with its wide seats, upright riding position, range of 110 km and a top speed of 90 km/h, makes it an ideal model when compared to the e-scooters on sale in India.
Mahindra will be launching an electric scooter based on the Peugeot e-Ludix (which is manufactured and exported globally by Mahindra from India) that was showcased at the Auto Expo 2020. Dr Pawan Goenka, MD of Mahindra & Mahindra, has confirmed that Mahindra is already working on the scooter and more effort is being placed to get the price right for the e-scooter. Driven by a 4 hp centrally-mounted motor powered by a 1.6 kWh battery, the e-Ludix offers a range of 50 km per charge. The battery takes 4 hours to be charged completely. We can expect Mahindra to make changes in the powertrain to compete better in the segment and to review the features to manage the pricing.
Though Vespa’s first electric scooter for India would be the Elettrica, the brand will also be doing a more affordable model. The Elettrica will be a premium product brought in as a CBU and the company is not looking to sell volumes of the scooter. The affordable product coming in 2 years would be tailored for India and locally manufactured, with a design that would be unmistakably Vespa.
Last year, there were reports that Benelli is evaluating products in electric mobility to be launched in India. Benelli India Managing Director Vikash Jhabakh has reportedly said that the company is investigating the possibilities of launching an electric scooter. He said that Benelli could launch an electric two-wheeler by 2022 and the decision would be dependent on how the Indian government’s EV policies evolve going further. Benelli is learned to be developing electric scooters for global markets which could be in the running for an Indian launch.
Rajiv Bajaj, the MD of Bajaj Auto, has confirmed that the Chetak’s platform would be used to build a high-performance electric scooter. Group brand Husqvarna is apparently already developing such an offering for the European markets, leveraging Bajaj’s technology. Since it will be developed on the Chetak platform and manufactured in India, it is very likely that this high-performance version will be sold locally. Husqvarna now sells bikes in India through KTM stores and will be keen to add products relevant to the local audience.
The electric scooter from Italy’s most nostalgic two-wheeler company was confirmed to make its global premiere at the Auto Expo 2020, and given those plans were shelved and the COVID-19 heavily impacting work life in Italy, we expect to hear about the status of the scooter in the second half of the year. Lambretta’s first electric scooter will have a metal monocoque chassis with metal body panels that clearly differentiates it from Chinese scooters and copycats.