Low-Speed Scooters, E Rickshaws Major ‘Headache’ For EV Task Force?

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Going ahead, the situation for low-speed electric two-wheeler and electric rickshaw retailers and makers looks a little cloudy. The bigger ones may want to join these segments as the two have already proved their worth in Tier 3, Tier 5 cities, and rural India!

At a small dealership in Haryana’s Faridabad, one can buy an low-speed electric scooter for as much as Rs 45,000. A lot of the popular models return 60 to 80 Km of range per full chargeand are powered by four 12V lead-acid batteries. But why would an individual want to travel at a top speed of only 25 km/hr, especially when everything else around is moving much faster?

“This model can reach speeds of up to 55 km/hr. There is a button here, and you only need to click the same,” this dealer tells us (translated from Hindi to English). All of a sudden, this Rs 45,000 electric low-speed scooter is a ‘cheaper alternative’ to made-in-India electric scooters. Additionally, while the motor power approved for low-speed electric two-wheelers is up to 250 W, a lot of these electric scooters available in the market come equipped with 800 W or 1200 W motors.

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Jump to electric rickshaws; the situation is limited but somewhat similar to the low-speed electric two-wheelers! Various of them are available with motors that are more powerful than the ones legal, and even the ‘low speed’ ones can actually reach speeds North of 35 km/hr!

Enter The EV Task Force?

While the Electronics For You teamwas the first to report the increasing focus of the authorities on the electric two-wheelers, and electric three-wheelers, several other media houses have recently given the electric vehicle (EV) task force space in their headlines. But unlike what these media houses have informed that the EV Task Force has been formulated recently, the same could have been functional for over four months now!

Several component makers supplying to e-rickshaw makers that the Electronics For You team spoke tohighlighted that sourcing has been slow for last few months. A few of these include companies that supply critical components such as heat sinks!

“The production has been very lowIf the amount of components they were sourcing a few months ago is compared to what they have been sourcing over the last three months, we can only say they are making only one-fourth of their original capacity,” a component maker told us!

Further, a lot of these have let go of contractual workers. A woman worker employed at one of such plants told Electronics For You, “There is no work! Some workers are enjoying the phase while some have started looking for work.”

She added that Seth (owner) of the company said that work would start as soon as the elections end! The sets have not stopped paying salaries but have let go of the workers who were not “permanent” under the organisation.

Changes In Components!

Another component maker noted that the vehicle makers have started speaking to them about potential changes in the components! However, the exact changes are yet to be communicated.

“Somethings are changing. We think the size and quality of aluminium heat sinks need to be bettered. Though these will increase the cost of the same, at the same time, these will also make them safer,” he says.

He added that the vehicle makers have told them that they are looking to cut their dependence of Chinese components. “They have said that we can try to make new components for them. The same will increase our business but we will have to invest a lot in knowing how to make them,” this small scale component maker said.

Ironically, some low-speed electric two-wheeler makers have started reaching out to a few of such component makers as well. They are also trying to find out if alternate to Chinese motors can be done in India.

“We were sent a BLDC motor that was completely rusted and were asked if we could create a copy or a better one. These things will take time. The major problem that was told to us was the BLDC motors coming from China were catching rust easily,” he informs.

It is believed that the Government of India is working on a new EV policy centered around two and three wheelers, and if the ruling party comes back to power, the curbs of Chinese components and EVs will only get tougher.

According to a report by a major reserach organisation, the sales of electric three-wheelers are now higher in India than China. Unfortunately, as the low-speed electric two-wheelers need not be registered, the exact numbers these are selling in Indiacannot be gauged. But a dealer from a tier-3 town had recently told us that the demand of low speed ones was much higher than the demand for high-speed ones.

Probably, after this election, even the low-speed ones will start coming under the ambit of better law and standardisation! Probably, the EV task force is working on the same! It is also the time when legacy OEMs and start-ups, including Ola Electric and Ather Energy, would want to expand their operations in Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities. As electric rickshaws become more mainstream, a lot of the bigger companies may also want to try their hands in the segment.

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Mukul Yudhveer Singh
Mukul Yudhveer Singh
Mukul Yudhveer Singh is an Editor at EFY. He’s an experienced business journalist who is both an enthusiast and a cynic of technology. Believes in data, as well as hunch-based journalism. He defines journalism as- reporting facts which help the audience take their own decisions, not ones that influence them!

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