Premium motorcycle market now in e2W bike OEMs' radar
Amid the plethora of new options being made available by legacy companies, start-up firms are hoping their high tech, high performance e2W motorcycles will also find new age buyers.
At a time when the premium ICE motorcycle market is witnessing feverish action from global and domestic brands, homegrown e2W brands like Ultraviolette, Orxa Energies, Raptee and Mantis are getting their wares ready to grab a pie in this business domain.
In a segment price range of Rs 1.75 to Rs 3.5 lakh that is largely dominated by Royal Enfield and Bajaj KTM, these e2w companies are confident that the rising youth population will opt for their high-tech and high performance electric motorcycles.
They feel that there is significant room to improve upon the internal combustion engine motorcycles in terms of technology, performance, design and features.
Dinesh Arjun, Co-founder and CEO of Raptee says that the only way to penetrate the market is through a strong product proposition. "It would be a mistake to believe that customers will switch to electric solely because of environmental friendliness or a lower total cost of ownership. The only way, only reason, or only time that the transition will occur organically, is when you have a superior product to the product that they are currently using," says Arjun.
In terms of numbers, the overall two-wheeler market is still few years from its previous peak (it was severely bruised by Covid), but the mid-sized motorcycle segment has held on its own and grown in double digits. Fuelling the demand is the growing affluent middle-class which started spending on discretionary purchases like never before, post 2020-21.
Tork Motors’ Founder and CEO Kapil Shelke says there is a lot in common with ICE and EV consumers. "The ICE consumer is also looking for connected features and with a better TCO. We want to reach out to ‘digital nomads’, who are high-end luxury motorbike buyers, and show them how differentiated our motorcycles are.”
Funding of close to US$ 3-4 billion is being lined up for the electric two-wheeler industry in India, but it is largely for the scooter space.
Unlike the internal combustion engine premium motorcycles, the EV bikes still face the challenge of the high cost of the battery and key components, and hence they need critical funding, given that the FAME subsidy has been rationalised.
The country’s largest e2w scooter maker Ola has plans to enter the electric motorcycle market and Autocar Professional has learnt that Ola is exploring an entire gamut of form factors like sports, cruiser, and adventure electric motorcycles to entice premium motorcycle buyers.
Challenging road ahead
While the EV two-wheeler makers claim that their product proposition is differentiated and high on technology, the higher cost still continues to be a big barrier.
The recent FAME rationalisation has actually made their final ticket price as high as Rs 50,000 in some cases. The range of electric motorcycles is still a challenge and it remains around 100-120 kilometres per charge, if these companies attempt to offer a higher range, then the price premium is quite significant over an internal combustion engine option.
Given the lower range, the pace of development of charging infrastructure will be critical, say experts.
EV motorcycle makers like Hop Electric, Oben and Matter do have plans to enter the market with higher range and higher performance bikes, but their current priority is to bring down the cost of their existing portfolio, which is priced between Rs 1.3 lakh to Rs 2.0 lakh, and some models have got dearer by Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000, due to the FAME subsidy rationalisation.
Rahil Gupta, Hop Electric's Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, plans to launch a high-end luxury electric motorcycle by 2024-25. He says his immediate goal is to "cut the pricing of its models and promote more traditional users to switch to electric machines.
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