Electric bikes gathering speed

Two-wheeler buyers in Bengaluru now understand the pricing and benefits of battery-run vehicles, and that is translating into increased sales

Rohan Vijay, BSc science student, rides an Ather 450. He bought it in June, charges it once in three days, and rides from his house in Basavanagudi to St Joseph’s College on Langford Road. He says a charge gives him 70 to 80 km.

Bengaluru is slowly warming up to the idea of battery-powered scooters and motorbikes. A big concern is the absence of charging stations.

Anuradha Santosh, the proprietor of Hero Electric Varna Motors, Banashankari, says e-bikes are classified into registration and non-registration variants.

“Non-registration ones are low in power and have a top speed of 25 kmph,” she says.

Many potential customers are taken aback at the prices, typically higher than what they would pay for petrol vehicles, but they are gradually coming to grips with the long-run benefits.

Hero Electric offers two models in the non-registration category: Flash and Optima Plus. Flash has a lead-acid battery variant for Rs 39,500 and a lithium variant for Rs 52,974. In Optima Plus, the lead-acid battery variant costs Rs 44,555 and the lithium one Rs 57,990.

The models that need to be registered are Flash e-5 for Rs 59,990, Optima e-5 for Rs 65,990 and NYX e-5 for Rs 65,990 and the Photon Li for Rs 98,000.

“Initially many didn‘t understand the pricing. But they are more informed now. Our sales have increased from about nine bikes a month (last year) to about 20 now. Many industries that need a fleet of vehicles are interested in our bikes now,” she adds.

Customers realise that the vehicles, though more expensive than non-electric vehicles, are cheaper to run and maintain.
“On one charge that costs less than Rs 10, an e-bike can go for up to 50 km,” she explains.

Viraja Super e-Bikes sells vehicles from Ampere and Japanese brand Okinawa. Ramanath PM, owner, rides an electric scooter to work. “From selling two bikes in a month two years ago, we now sell 15, and sales are increasing steadily,” he says.

Okinawa has models: Ridge 30 priced at Rs 47,000, Ridge Plus at Rs 84,000 and i Praise at Rs 1.26 lakh.

“i Praise is a bit more expensive as it gives 120 to 140 km on a charge while other models give 35 to 60 km,” he says. In Ampere, Reo Li is priced at Rs 57,000 and Zeal at Rs 78,500.

“Ampere is a more popular brand as it has been around for 11 years, while Okinawa is a newer brand,” he says.      

The central government is talking about making e-scooters mandatory by 2023 but the Karnataka government has done nothing to promote them, he says.

A spokesperson of Ather Energy says deliveries of e-scooters have increased five-fold in February-June this year as compared to the same period in 2018.

“The brand was welcomed since we shifted our R&D base from Chennai to Bengaluru. We have had open houses in the and also on-road testing which has helped build our customer base,” he says.

Models from Aster Energy are Ather 340, priced at Rs 1.11 lakh and Ather 450, priced at Rs 1.22 lakh.

“When we announced the prices last year, it had a shock factor. We started providing finance options. More people now understand why the price of an e-scooter is higher,” says the spokesperson.

Where to buy

AtherSpace Experience Center, Indiranagar 76766 00900

Varna Motors Hero Electric, Banashankari 73488 55777

Viraja Super e-Bikes, Lal Bagh Road: 94485 93860

Go Green Bov, JP Nagar: 74113 35656

B2B bikes

"We have been around for more than a decade and we are a B2B company. Delivery companies are buying bikes from us.<br/>Go Green Bov, Bike brand based in Bengaluru."

-- Go Green Bov, Bike brand, based in Bengaluru

What could make these bikes popular?

Anuradha Santosh, proprietor of Varaja Motors Hero Electric, says, “Proper promotions should happen. Bengaluru has several petrol pumps but not enough charging stations, and the government needs to set them up.”

Ramanath PM, owner of Viraja Super e-Bikes, suggests officials and government employees set an example by using e-bikes. “This would mean a switch of about 10 per cent of the city‘s entire population,” he says.

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