Friday, June 6, 2008

E-Bikes on the Right Track

Undoubtedly, it's economy, convenience and zero emission that are the prime drivers for the electric two-wheeler category in major parts of the world. Today, with the prices of fuel spiralling to scary heights, there's unwieldy pressure on corporate as well as business groups to ease the stress on the environment that's already buckling under the pressure. E-Bikes, as a natural consequence, are here not just to provide a solution...they're here for keeps!

"In Asia Pacific and India, the running cost turns out to be the biggest factor associated with the two-wheeler industry," feels Ultra Motors Director (Marketing) Deba Ghoshal. "In comparison to (ICE) Internal Combustion Engine-based two wheelers running on petrol, electric two-wheelers run on electricity, leading to huge savings. With running cost as low as 10 per cent of conventional petrol driven two-wheelers, consumers stands to gain undoubtedly," he adds.

Backed by numbers, Ghoshal makes a valid point. One litre of petrol gives you 50 km of transportation. One unit of power gives you 70 km to 100 km of transportation. One litre of petrol cost approximately Rs 50. And one unit of power in India cost approximately Rs 4 to Rs 5. This makes it less than 10 paise per km in an electric two-wheeler compared to almost 1 rupee per km in a petrol two-wheeler. If you extrapolate this over a month, it leads to a saving of almost Rs 1,350 per month in a situation where a person rides his bike for 50 km every day. And in 24 months, the savings made enable the user to recover the cost of the vehicle! The consumer virtually is assured of a clean form of mobility, that too free, when he is opting for an electric two-wheeler.

Hero Electric's managing director Naveen Munjal feels that there are four basic compelling reasons for e-bikes to stay - viz. the depleting stocks of non renewable crude oil; the ever-increasing prices of petrol; their utility as a viable non-polluting economical means of transport, and lastly, their comfort by way of lower sound emissions, convenience of doing away with petrol pump visits, and lack of maintenance costs.

As Chairman and CTO, Electrotherm, Mukesh Bhandari puts it "The Electric 2 Wheelers category will grow exponentially over the next few years with large national level players investing substantial amount of money in manufacturing facility, technology, indigenization, product development, brand and quality improvement thereby making available electric vehicles suitable for Indian Roads".

Avinash Bhandari, Director Operation of Electrotherm adds, "The launch of high speed / high powered electric two wheelers have brought electric vehicles in the main stream scooter category. With the availability of such high powered vehicles, people have started switching over from petrol two wheelers to electric two wheelers. This trend will gain momentum with the launch of further higher power electric vehicles.

In fact, a much-needed Government support has already started coming in from a few environmentally conscious states like Rajasthan, Karnataka, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Pondicherry, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh to name a few, in the form of RTO exemption / reduction, VAT reduction and subsidies to customers in order to promote electric / battery powered vehicles. A similar move by other Governments will go a long way in supporting this green vehicle."

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