Although the E2W segment is dominated by electric scooters as they are light and easy to maneuver, they make up only 33% of all two wheelers sold in India
Electric two wheelers in India are the most sought after vehicles as their running costs are 20% lower than their ICE counterparts. The country sold 6,31,090 e2Ws in CY 2022 and in CY 2023 the number has already reached 6,90,099.
However the segment is dominated by electric scooters even though technically they make up only 33% of all the two wheelers sold in the country. The vehicles are light, easy to maneuver and offer adequate range of around 80 km per charge. This makes them ideal for city use. At the same time, these factors have held back the development of affordable electric motorcycles.
Why are ICE motorcycles so popular?
- Better suited to rural India : Industry experts say that ICE motorcycles are generally heavier than scooters, which is why they cost more to buy and are better suited to road conditions outside of tier I and tier II cities. Their stronger suspensions and heavier weights result in a more comfortable ride on unpaved roads, as are often found in rural India.
Fig. 1: The Hero Splendor is India’s most popular petrol motorbike | Image: Autocarbazaar.com
Unsurprisingly therefore, the Hero Splendor continues to be India’s best-selling motorcycle. It sold 32,55,744 units in FY 2023 and is followed closely by the Honda CB Shine, which sold 12,09,025 units in the same year. Both motorcycles return an average fuel economy of around 70 kmpl.
- More power than scooters : One of the primary selling features for motorcycles is that they are more powerful than petrol scooters. This enables them to be driven at higher speeds, which is an attribute both enjoyed by enthusiasts and is useful for long runs on the highway. Motorcycles are also designed with larger engines, with capacities typically ranging from around 100 cc (mass market commuter units) to up to 650 cc or higher. While this affects their fuel economy, the higher torque and power output at the wheels gives them a premium feel over petrol scooters.
Fig. 2: The Royal Enfiled Interceptor is one of India’s few motorbikles with a 650cc engine | Image: Cycleworld.com
- Appeals to the younger, male crowd : Motorcycles are incredibly popular amongst the younger riders who are largely male. The heavier construction, the more stylish designs and their greater power output are three factors that make the vehicles more desirable over scooters, despite all of this resulting in higher running costs.
Electric motorcycles in India
This segment remains largely untapped even though electric motorcycles in India could use the same charging infrastructure as the electric scooters. This applies to both within the cities and between them, since the power consumption of electric two wheelers tends to be better when compared to electric cars.
A primary factor for their absence would be the much higher costs for an electric variant. Typically mass-market commuter motorcycles in India, such as the Bajaj Platina or the Hero Splendor, cost Rs. 65,000 - 80,000. Reports suggest that their electric versions could cost up to Rs. 1,30,000. That’s twice the cost for a segment of buyers that prioritises upfront and average ownership costs above all else. For higher engine capacities, the electric variants could cross Rs. 2 lakh, which may be prohibitively expensive for most buyers to justify the purchase.
Fig. 3: India’s most successful e-bike till date, the Revolt RV400 offers a range of 80km | Image: BikeWale
Also, the access to charging points may not be the same for every locality. It may only make sense for a user to buy a petrol motorcycle if their place of residence or regular travel route does not have ready access to EV charging stations.
Fig. 4: The top variant of the Matter Aera e-bike could offer up to 150km of range on a single charge | Image: HT Auto
Thus India’s electric motorcycle options at the moment are quite limited. Newer models are being introduced, but the most popular is the Revolt RV400 with a range of up to 80km/charge and a starting price of Rs. 1.14 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). The other electric motorcycles are:
Table: List of electric motorcycles in India, September 2023
|Electric bikes models||Starting price||Battery||Range||Charging time||Speed|
|Revolt RV400||Rs 1,29,400||3.2kWh||80-150 km||4.5 hours||80 kmph|
|Joy e-Bike Monster||Rs 1,02,249||30Ah||75 km||4.5 hours||25 kmph|
|Tork Kratos R||Rs 1,92,499||4kWh||180 km||4-5 hours||105 kmph|
|Komaki Ranger 2023||Rs 1,85,000||4.5kWh||220 km||5-6 hours||80 kmph|
|Cyborg Bob||Rs 1,14,999||2.88kWh||110 km||4-5 hours||85 kmph|
|Odysse Evoqis||Rs 1,66,250||4.32kWh||140 km||6 hours||80 kmph|
|Oben Rorr||Rs 99,999||4.4kWh||200 km||2 hours||100 kmph|
|PURE EV eTryst 350||Rs 1,54,999||3.5kWh||140 km||6 hours||85 kmph|
|Matter Aera||Rs 1,43,999||5kWh||125 km||5 hours||N/A|
|Pure ecoDryft||Rs 99,999||3kWh||85-135 km||3 hours||75 kmph|
The newer entrants will take some time to generate volume sales. Yet the table shows an attempt by the manufacturers to introduce affordable electric motorcycles to the buyer that do not compromise on range or practicality. It’s a market segment that has been slow to change, but fortunately the growing interest in e-mobility and e2Ws in general is bound to have an impact on motorcycles as well.