Yamaha Neo's to miss India launch; new premium EV in the works

Company Chairman says, with the new EV, Yamaha is looking to reinforce its brand and not chase volumes.

By Rishaad Mody, Autocar India calendar 21 Jun 2023 Views icon5869 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Yamaha Neo's to miss India launch; new premium EV in the works

Around a year back, Yamaha India chairman Eishin Chihana informed us that the company was working on adapting its Neo’s electric scooter for an India launch. However, a lot has changed since then, especially around regulatory structures and subsidies for electric bikes in India, and, as it appears, Yamaha’s own plans have also changed.

The original plan was to bring an adapted version of the stylish Neo’s scooter to India, and at the time, Chihana told us that it would offer more than the Euro spec scooter’s 37km range, but meeting the 100km range figure offered by existing rivals would be difficult.

However, Chihana says that as time passed, Yamaha started to observe that the typical EV customer in India is different from those in Europe who buy EV scooters primarily for green, eco-friendly reasons. “In India, the biggest motivation is low running costs. With petrol prices being so high, people buy mainly for economic value. That is different from our internal combustion customers who buy our products not only for economical value but buy bikes like the R15 and MT-15 for the aspiration value, style and performance. So we are also stressing on making a product that is exciting, stylish and sporty. That is the value of a Yamaha.”

With this in mind, Chihana tells us that Yamaha decided that in case they make an electric vehicle, it should be ‘something exciting, something outstanding, something sporty’. He went on to say that they won’t chase volumes, but the scooter should contribute to reinforcing the brand. “So we shifted our direction from the Neo’s. I recognise that even if we rush the product, we will not be introducing anything to our brand. So we will take some time, but offer something unique.”

Yamaha has already started working on this project for India and we are looking at a two to three year timeline before it is ready. While some may be disappointed with the longer than expected wait for a Yamaha e-scooter, it is probably a good thing. After all, the Neo’s was a very good looking scooter, but it lacked the performance and range to match the best EVs on sale in India today.

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