The future of the EV Two-Wheeler looks bright in India. Fresh off the news is that Ola has garnered 100,000 bookings for its new scooter. Witnessing the explosive growth of Ather Energy, the entry of TVS and Bajaj into the segment with compelling products, and the penetration of small existing players, the electric scooter is well and truly here to stay. But all of this poses a critical and somewhat baffling question, where are the EV Motorcycles? A quick round of analysis reveals that it isn't smooth waters for them in all segments. No mass-market manufacturer in India has any EV motorcycles on the horizon. Revolt has generated nowhere near the amount of excitement as other scooters in the same price range, and even performance bike manufacturers like Ducati have abandoned EVs in favour of Biofuels.
To understand this, it is vital to go beyond statistics and the boardroom and understand what buying a bike actually means.
With the evolution of the biking scene in India, more people than ever are taking their bikes on tours and on the track. EV bikes fall short in these aspects as they have neither the range nor the performance of similarly priced high-capacity petrol-powered bikes. Added to that, buying a motorcycle is aspirational and emotional for most young people these days. The fact that electric bikes don't have the appeal or heritage of most combustion-engined bikes is a tall order for them to sell in great numbers. As a result, mass-market manufacturers don't have any incentive to invest in the research and development of electric motorcycles.
In contrast, a decent electric scooter is much different in what it brings to the table. Here, speed and performance take a backseat as practicality and ease of living take top priority. In general, the customer base for scooters is considerably older than that of motorcycles, and factors like brand appeal and heritage aren't as important. Electric scooters have more storage capacity, generally more tech-enabled features, and currently have a wider support network. Scooters are generally used over shorter distances and commutes, so electrifying them and installing charging points at users' homes makes sense to the manufacturers.
The other side of the demand for electric scooters comes from the businesses. For businesses and delivery service fleets, investing in electric scooters makes sense due to their easiness to zip through traffic, their superior storage capacity, better compatibility for battery swaps, and of course, their cheap running cost. EVs are at least five times cheaper than your conventional combustion vehicles. Additionally, the fact that businesses can avail of the numerous tax benefits by switching to EVs for their fleets sweetens the deal.
Although performance electric motorcycle brands like Ultraviolette and Cagiva have gained significant interest among enthusiasts and regular buyers alike, Zero and Energica's performance electric bikes are technically impressive. However, the price to performance ratio of these bikes still doesn't stand favorably against similarly priced combustion counterparts, but the shift to EVs is inevitable. It is a matter of time when the OEMs will ramp up their R&D and go fully electric.
But, the near future for electric motorcycles remains bleak, as there is no incentive for consumers to buy them yet. However, the future of electric scooters looks the brightest it has ever been, and their meteoric rise and domination of the electric two-wheeler market are set to continue.