‘Hero’s electric scooters have about 50 percent localisation value-wise.’

Sohinder Gill, CEO, Global Hero Eco, speaks on the company’s new e-scooters, an e-dumper/tipper and an e-charging station in New Delhi today.

Shobha Mathur By Shobha Mathur calendar 29 Jan 2016 Views icon6632 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘Hero’s electric scooters have about 50 percent localisation value-wise.’

Sohinder Gill, CEO, Global Hero Eco, speaks to Shobha Mathur at the product reveal of the company’s new e-scooters, the just-launched e-dumper/tipper and an e-charging station in New Delhi today.  

What are the plans for rolling out the new electric two-wheelers and electric tipper that Hero Eco has just unveiled?
Hero Electric has launched the electric tipper/dumper today at a price of Rs 1.45 lakh and Rs 1.75 lakh along with the lead acid battery. It will have a payload capacity of 250kg for which we are in advanced talks with IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company for sale of about 50 tippers for collection of garbage from a few colonies.  The electric tipper comes with an 80km range per charge with a maximum speed of 25kph. It will have to be recharged for 8 hours initially and 5-6 hours subsequently.

Three electric scooters will be rolled out in April – the low-speed Maxi (Rs 49,500), the Optima+  (Rs 54,500) and the high-speed Photon (Rs 88,000, all on-road prices inclusive of 12.5 percent VAT in Delhi including insurance). The price includes the Rs 17,000 subsidy given under the central government’s FAME scheme. A variant of the Photon with a high speed of 55kph will be rolled out at Diwali time.

A variant of the tipper will be launched after six months with a payload capacity of 500kg and will be demand-based. There is no financial exemption being given on the electric tipper since commercial products do not get subsidy. But now the Delhi government has started giving a subsidy of Rs 15,000 for e-rickshaws so maybe for commercial purposes, the tipper may also get enrolled into that. The Maxi has a range of 70km per charge with a speed of 25kph. The Optima+ has a range of 65km per charge with 25kph. The Photon scooter has a range of 60km per charge with a high speed of 45kph. It has a kerb weight of 111kg, ground clearance of 140mm with peak motor power of 1500w, storage box capacity of 20-25 litres, with 10-inch wheels and an advanced lithium ion battery (48V/40AH). It is ARAI certified.

What is the localisation level in these e-scooters?
Mechanically many components are localised from our own Hero ancillaries – shock absorbers, wheel rims, brakes, suspension systems and tyres. What is not yet localised is the battery and the motor though we have started some experiments with Bosch and electrically it is half-localised. Overall, the electric scooters have about 50 percent localisation value-wise. The tipper is 100 percent localised.

As regards lithium ion batteries, the government is tying up with space research institutions for making these batteries locally and cost effectively.
That will take two years to come about but when it happens we would surely like to use that concept to reduce the price of lithium ion batteries.

What is the potential of the market for electric tippers currently?
Someone has to think of it as a solution in terms of not only economy but also the environment. If one thinks only of the economy, then maybe there will not be so much of conversion but if it is the environment, people who are collecting garbage and recycling garbage must keep their motive in mind, then the solution of economy and environment put together will be the ideal situation. Big garbage trucks don’t go into colonies. For the electric tipper, we are talking of transporting garbage from the house to the main garbage collection bins.

How are your electric scooters launched earlier doing in terms of sales?
Quite well especially after receiving the subsidy. The percentage increase has been 100 percent over the previous year but the volumes are still low.

How are you going to market the tipper?
This will be through institution sales, no retail sales.

What is the plan for expanding dealerships from the current 350 and providing servicing facilities?
We will add another 100 dealers in 2016-17. We invest part and the dealer invests the balance in the dealership. They are exclusive dealers to us so they have to invest in workshops, interiors and we invest in signages, training and materials. We are extending the service network of 350 dealers to these vehicles also. The nearest dealer will be attached to them and within 10km you will find a dealer servicing these electric vehicles.

How do you estimate the sales potential for  these EVs?
I am not sure about the potential right now but private agencies have to take it up as a CSR activity, the government has to pitch in and we have to provide inputs so potential will be clear after a few months. Right now we are thinking that we can sell about 100-200 units per month.  We have a production capacity of 220 units per day.

You mentioned that the lead acid batteries in the tipper will have a life of 3-4 years but normally they get discharged after a year. Your comments.  
That is in the e-rickshaw when it is abused because it is overloaded; four to six people sitting, the driver charging twice but that is not present in this battery. It lasts like an inverter battery.

Can you detail the development of the lithium ion battery? You say Hero Electric has contributed towards the development of the electronic circuitry.
The electronic circuitry is sitting within the battery and is a sealed unit. We worked with a Taiwanese company to create the Battery Management System, created an R&D team, then co-developed it with them. Then there is a company which consolidated for us and created the battery for us. The BMS is a proprietary item and it took a lot of development time. We have our R&D both at Ludhiana and in Delhi. In Ludhiana we undertake trials, testing, developments, endurance, life testing, jigs and fixtures. In Delhi the brain sits -engineers and software engineers.

The difference between the lead acid and lithium ion battery vehicles is Rs 20,000 because of the financial incentives. The lithium ion battery has a life of 5 years but it is still expensive at about $350/Rs 22,109 (1Kwatt per hour) but we expect in 12 months the price of the battery will come down to $250/Rs 15,792 and in 2-3 years it should cost around $200/Rs 12,634 due to economies of scale. A lithium ion battery can be charged within half an hour on the rapid charging system while the lead acid battery needs about 8 hours and subsequently 5-6 hours of recharging. A new lead battery will cost Rs 26,000. While the lithium ion battery vehicle is initially expensive, its cost of ownership is lower than lead acid. It is also a third of the weight of the lead acid battery and is also environment friendly.

How will the charging stations work and what is the roadmap for it?
It all depends on the government.  Next week we are setting up two charging stations in east Delhi along with Tata Power Delhi Distribution. We are also talking to a number of other agencies like Rajasthan Electricity, BSI and also the Delhi government for installing them. The charging stations need to be set up in parking lots and in malls. 

Which new model is in the pipeline after the current rollout?
Another high speed (55km range) scooter, which is under wraps, will come at the end of the year.

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