Auto Expo 2014: Hero Electric to unveil Photon scooter, e-bicycle

Company hopes for government subsidy to boost sales of these two electric-powered two-wheelers, says Shobha Mathur.

By Shobha Mathur calendar 03 Feb 2014 Views icon24728 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Company hopes for government subsidy to boost sales of these two electric-powered two-wheelers, says Shobha Mathur.

 

Hero Electric, a Hero Group company, is all set to unveil two new electric models at the Auto Expo 2014 as part of its display in the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Pavilion. These include the high-speed e-scooter Photon that underwent test marketing for 3-6 months and the e-bicycle Avior. Both products are slated for a May launch.

While the Photon will cost Rs 50,000-Rs55,000, the E-bicycle Avior will be priced at Rs 22,000 and above for various variants.

Sohinder Gill, CEO of Hero Electric, told Autocar Professional that feedback received during the test marketing has been incorporated in the Photon and the e-scooter was ready for a nationwide rollout. “Full bodied and looking bulkier and larger than the normal automatic entry level scooters like the Honda Activa, it will be the first electric vehicle to take head on the petrol scooters,” he says.

The Photon has been designed for a 50km distance on a single charge, depending on a single rider or with pillion. Overnight recharging at home will pep it up for the same distance. The e-scooter promises low maintenance and a friction-free ride with no oil change or wire tightening required in the absence of the traditional clutch and gears.

However, the import content in the Photon is higher than that of the Avior which has a localisation level of 65-70 percent. The Photon has 50 percent local content with most of the expensive electricals such as motor controller, and the lead acid battery being imported.

Though priced 20 percent higher than a normal petrol scooter, Gill claims it will offer savings of 40 percent on running costs. The total cost of ownership can be broken up into battery replacement cost, maintenance and charging with the first year recovery expected to be around 30 percent on these parameters in comparison to a petrol guzzler, adds Gill.

In terms of projected sales, Gill is more circumspect saying that volumes will depend on the subsidy element. With the subsidy, the electric scooter should cost the same as a petrol-engined scooter. Initially, Hero Electric plans to roll out around a few hundred scooters from its Ludhiana plant where 120 units are made in a single shift. With two shifts, capacity can be doubled to 240 units.

Gill says the company will break-even if a subsidy is announced under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan in April. At present, the numbers of Hero Electric are limited at Ludhiana with the EV two-wheeler market stagnating. But the company is also mulling introducing lithium ion batteries in both the Photon and the Avior later but this would make its products even more expensive. “We are in talks with the Union Ministry of Heavy Industries to get subsidies on the e-bicycles and the outcome will be linked to our showcasing the Avior at the Expo,”adds Gill.

About two years ago, Hero Electric had acquired Ultra Motors of the UK and is marketing its high-speed scooter A2B in 22 countries. This, the company says, is selling upwards of 200,000 units annually in Europe, the US and Canada. It has leveraged Ultra tech and indigenised it for the Avior to make it affordable. “We have come out with two specific products that are like cycles in their outward appearance but will be motorised,” concludes Gill. Both the EVs will be exported to Europe, Latin America, Australia, Japan and Korea in course of time.

 

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