Electric scooters set to redefine India’s automotive stratosphere
In recent years, anticipation of a thriving electric vehicle ecosystem in India has been off the charts. In fact, India has powerfully manifested the desire to become an electric vehicle hub. The “Make in India” point of view has broadened the platforms, and new players are emerging with promising prospects, particularly in the field of EVs.
Mayank Vashisht, Associate Editor and Technology Correspondent of ELE Times, had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with one of these emerging players on the Indian EV spectrum, Anmol Bhore, MD and co-founder, Enigma Automobiles Private Limited. Anmol reflects on the market penetration of electric scooters and e-bikes in India and the obstacles this vertical faces, and how much government support actually supports emerging players like Enigma.
ELE Times: The national government has launched strict policies to reduce vehicle emissions. In particular, the change from Bharat Stage V (BSV) emission standards to BS-VI emission standards. Has this policy, among others, helped to stimulate the growth of the Indian market for electric scooters and motorcycles?
Bharath’s Stage VI standards are two steps ahead of current emission regulation standards. The Bharat Stadium is a standard instituted by the government to control the emissions of air pollutants from motor vehicles rather than a promotional segment. Compliance with BSVI standards will require greater investment in technology to upgrade vehicles in stock and manufacture new vehicles. It also means fewer launches until the deadline. In particular, the jump in emission standards is expected to benefit the Indian market for electric scooters and motorcycles by increasing the prices of gasoline two-wheelers by 7-15%. Automakers are only allowed to sell BSVI-compliant vehicles in the country, prompting the push towards electric variants.
ELE Times: Despite the multiple benefits of electric scooters and bicycles, why are these nature-friendly vehicles not included in the Indian Consumer Preference Index over combustion engine vehicles?
Electric bikes are still behind the scenes in India, which is not the case in other countries. However, with pollution at its peak, the effects of global warming and the pandemic pressing the need for greener countries, people realized that there was no alternative to electric vehicles – the future is green! Previous constraints were technology and performance; people are used to gasoline engines because they are more powerful. Also, if you are using an electric machine and run out of battery, it will take hours to recharge it but only a few minutes or seconds to refuel your diesel or gasoline engine. The charging infrastructure in India is also in its development phase. Apart from that, affordability was also a very important factor.
The Indian scenario of electric vehicles with the attention of government and investors has charged. The technology is now being made affordable and with a large number of new start-ups entering the industry, earlier issues such as the availability of spare parts and the service center are being resolved. People tend to trust what they see, and it will take at least 5 years for electricity to reach ICE penetration.
ELE Times: What obstacles is the Indian electric scooter and motorcycle industry facing due to the unprecedented COVID outbreak?
The pandemic catalyzed India’s long-awaited electric vehicle boom. Previously, many consumers expressed widespread concerns about sustainability, but those concerns did not translate into action when purchasing their electric bikes / cars. Changing modes of mobility and growing environmental awareness have boosted sales by electric vehicle manufacturers in India.
As demand has driven the electric vehicle industry, the sector faces several manufacturing challenges. The electric vehicle industry, which depends on China to import cells, batteries and other electronic components and sensors, faces a prolonged slowdown. The disruption of the supply chain has disrupted the entire ecosystem. With the containment and the migrant labor scenario, the availability of blue collar workers had also become / is becoming a challenge. Another obstacle is the rise in prices linked to inflation without any added value to the products. This discourages the buying behavior of consumers. With the ecosystem disrupted, the industry as a whole faces several operational challenges to maintain it even now.
ELE Times: Do you think electric scooters can achieve high market penetration in India compared to combustion engine scooters in the coming year? How would you support your answer?
There are more and more government policies supporting battery-powered vehicles, growing environmental awareness, and on top of this is the rise in gasoline prices, which has boosted the electric scooter industry into India. Future growth is strongly linked to collaboration between government and industry, increased affordability for manufacturers and consumers, and change in environmental awareness. Electric scooters, with their low operating costs, negligible maintenance costs, and next-generation subscription models, will be a game-changer for the electric vehicle industry.
ELE Times: How do you see the market for electric scooters and motorcycles in India?
The electric vehicle industry is growing and has a very bright future. Enigma Automobiles sold their cumulative sales of the past four months in August alone, and we’ll keep repeating the same. We are already in talks with an Australian company for new graphene batteries for the Indian markets. With the advent of affordable technology, growing infrastructure and government sponsored programs, companies like us are determined to break stereotypes and bring about change that will redefine the stratosphere of the Indian automotive segment.
ELE Times: Do you think the support provided by the Indian government under the “Make India” initiative for businesses like yours is up to the task? What do you think the government side can do to secure the future of India’s electric scooter / bicycle market?
With the Make in India position, we are witnessing the emergence of VE market players. However, it will take several years for brands to locate everything in India. This is where industry and government must work together to make India a reality. On the commercial side, for the moment, the advantages only apply to the players with the richest pockets. Things move very slowly; for example, the amount sanctioned under the CGT PME regime for small businesses is accompanied by a tedious procedure which makes it a protracted process. But yes, things are changing and we look forward to various programs like the recently announced PLI program to benefit aggressive companies like us.
ELE Times: What new technologies is your company integrating into your electric vehicles compared to your contemporaries?
Enigma Automobiles has made its mark in the industry in a very short period of time, with technologically enhanced, feature-rich and affordable electric scooters. We were the first to introduce reverse gears, cruise control knobs and better suspension on our bikes. We also offered hill assist about two years ago, which brands are focusing on now. Our vehicles are now equipped with automatic cruise control; turn the throttle and hold it in the same position for two seconds, and the vehicle will enter auto cruise mode. We are striving to provide better technology and best service to our customers.
Mayank Vashisht | Sub-editor | ELE timetables