Sat, 23 Nov 2019

Bajaj Chetak electric image for reference.

Till recently, petrol was the only fuel that powered scooters. However now, customers have the option to choose between petrol or electric scooters. This is no easy decision as several different variables need to be considered. Let's do a quick comparison between electric scooters vs. petrol scooters and try to identify their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Price: This is probably the most crucial factor influencing a customer's decision. Even with FAME II subsidy, electric scooters are priced higher than their petrol counterparts. Cheaper electric scooters are also available, but they usually have shorter range, slow speed, small dealer network, etc. Most top rated electric scooters utilize lithium-ion batteries, which don't come cheap.

Running cost: Electric scooters fare better in this area, as they have lower running cost in comparison to petrol scooters. Electric scooter manufacturers often highlight this point that customers stand to gain in the long run when they invest in an electric scooter.

Ather electric scooters.

Charging/Fuelling: It's much easier to fuel a petrol scooter, as compared to electric scooters. It only takes a couple of minutes at a fuel station to fuel a petrol scooter. In comparison, electric scooters need to be charged for several hours. Even fast chargers require around an hour to load the needed kilometres. However, things could improve when battery swapping infrastructure becomes readily available, just like fuel stations.

Range: Some of the top-rated electric scooters currently offer range of around 80-100 km. This may be adequate for daily use, but the range anxiety still exists. Charging stations and battery swapping infrastructure is yet to be fully developed, so the thought of getting stranded with an empty battery persists. In comparison, petrol fuel stations are readily available. So, a petrol scooter's range is virtually limitless.

Maintenance cost: The general perception is that electric scooters require less maintenance as compared to petrol scooters. However, this theory is yet to be tested on a large scale and over longer durations. Nonetheless, the bothersome oil change and regular servicing of the multitude of moving parts of petrol scooters would certainly be history with electric scooters.

Apartment conundrum: A large number of people in cities live in apartments and high-rises, which do not have charging infrastructure in the parking area. It's true that electric scooter manufacturers are offering removable batteries, but this would not be as easy as filling petrol at a fuel station.

Environment factors: BS-VI petrol engines are cleaner, but electric scooters are way ahead, as they don't even have an exhaust pipe. If you are concerned about the environment, you would probably choose an electric scooter.

To take electric scooters to the masses, prices have to be reduced and battery charging/swapping infrastructure needs to be developed. Stakeholders will also have to work on solving the apartment conundrum, as a significant chunk of people live in such spaces.

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