ICE vs EVs: War of words begin

The launch of Harley-Davidson's 440X and Triumph Motorcycles' Speed 400 into India's mid-size market has created a lot of buzz. Some of the reactions were enthusiastic, some less so.

By Chandan B Mallik calendar 24 Jul 2023 Views icon8914 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘Can’t understand why companies are falling head over heels to contract manufacture ageing western ICE motorcycle brands in India’: Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and Founder, OLA Electric

‘Can’t understand why companies are falling head over heels to contract manufacture ageing western ICE motorcycle brands in India’: Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and Founder, OLA Electric

From a marketing perspective, the timing may have seemed too perfect for ICE motorcycle makers like Triumph and Harley-Davidson, both of whom have launched a series of mid-segment motorcycles with aggressive pricing and ambitious production plans.

On the other side of the non-ICE two-wheeler spectrum you have the EV players, some of whom are beginning to struggle after the FAME II subsidy was cut and the subsidy payments stuck due to technical reasons.

Registrations of electric two-wheelers fell 4.1 percent to 42,121 units in June from 43,919 units in the previous year, according to data from the government’s Vahan dashboard. Sales plunged 60 percent in June from
May, when sales rose to a record high of more than 1,00,000 registrations.

This aspect and an uncertain future has made some of the EV bigger players wary about what’s happening in the market and it seems, there are some indications of resentment about more ICE players coming into the two-wheeler marker.

Bhavish Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of the country’s largest electric two-wheeler maker Ola Electric, has mocked legacy players Hero MotoCorp and Bajaj Auto for their recent announcement of entering the mid-size motorcycles with the global iconic brands Harley and Triumph respectively.

Using the Twitter platform, Aggarwal tweeted, “I can’t understand why some companies are falling head over heels to contract manufacture ageing western ICE motorcycle brands in India.” This is coming from a promoter, whose shared mobility business, Ola Cabs, is largely run on internal combustion engines.

Despite the difficulties in the market, Ola Electric dominated electric two-wheeler sales in June, selling 16,322 units, hogging a respectable 38.7 percent
market share.

Propagating the end of ICEAge or end of petrol engine two wheelers since his foray into the business, he added, “We’ll build the future of motorcycling with EVs and #MakeInIndia for the whole world.”

He has made tall claims that the Indian two-wheeler market will transition to 100 percent electric by 2025, which appears to be a far cry, given the fact that the penetration of EVs in two wheelers is merely at 5-7 percent and it has further slipped post the rationalisation of the FAME subsidy in June.

On its part, Ola has set up the largest electric two-wheeler manufacturing plant in the world at Chennai and as the tweet has suggested, the company will be coming out with an electric motorcycle in 2024.

The launch of new entrants Triumph Speed 400 and Harley-Davidson 440X has generated a lot of buzz in the market.

Both these iconic brands will look to challenge the dominance of the Royal Enfield, the mid-size motorcycle volume specialist in the Indian market.

The market has responded enthusuastically and Triumph Motorcycles has already got over 10,000 online bookings. Its Alliance partner Bajaj Auto has stated the production will be ramped up accordingly to meet this "unprecedented demand.”

The Triumph Speed 400 was announced at Rs 2.33 lakh at the India launch in July, with a special inaugural price of Rs 2.23 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the first 10,000 customers.  Harley- Davidson’s X440 mid-size motorcycle, co-developed with Hero MotoCorp, has been launched at an aggressive ex-showroom price of Rs 2.29 lakh to Rs 2.69 lakh.

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