After the ‘limited launch’ of its mass market e-scooter Flash, electric vehicle major Hero Electric is planning to launch a series of electric scooters to carve out a piece of the currently rapidly growing petrol scooter market for itself.
The company is all set to roll out at least two new products every year for the next couple of years including 2017 and has just tied up a powertrain partnership with Bosch to offer better technology and higher speed in its product lineup.
India’s e-two wheeler market, all set to double from 24,000 units to 45,000 units this year thanks to the government’s FAME 2 initiative and the GST roll-out, will see new opportunities where e-scooters can pitch themselves against their traditional petrol versions said company CEO Sohinder Gill.
“For the time being we will focus only on scooters because petrol scooters are growing really well and we want to get a piece of that market for our e-scooters,” said Gill.
“We will roll out at least two products a year if not more and all of them will be high-tech and some of them will be smart vehicles which are mobile/wireless connected so that remote diagnostics can be done on them sitting at home,” he added.
Hero’s new strategy involves higher tech products with better battery power and more performance. “The products we will launch will offer higher speed so as to make them similar in performance to petrol scooters,” said Gill. “We will also offer comprehensive warranty for three years including the battery.”
As part of this new focus, the company will also move to lithium ion battery across its range even though Flash is still lead acid battery powered. “We are going to be transferring all our products and our existing range to lithium ion battery,” said Gill.
“To begin with we are giving customers the choice of lithium or lead acid. The lithium batteries will also be portable, rapidly chargeable and offer better speed performance from 45 kmh to 65 kmh, comparable with petrol scooters,” he said.
“The company has just introduced Bosch as a powertrain partner and will graduate to Bosch more and more as a serious partner both internationally and domestically,” added Gill.
Of course, the e-scooters are not cheap — the next product due from Hero Electric stable will cost around Rs 80,000-90,000 post government subsidies. But given that it has no maintenance cost and no fuel cost, it’s reasonable, said Gill.
On an average a scooter owner spends around Rs 100,000 on lifetime fuel cost. Add to that the cost of the vehicle and the electric option appears reasonable. “Batteries make up 50% of my cost,” said Gill. “Without the fuel cost, my vehicles are actually cheaper.”