New-age entrepreneurs back govt’s EV plan; old peers oppose it
The support for the move from new-age entrepreneurs have come at a time when veterans have criticised it.
Founders of electric two-wheeler startups from Rahul Sharma (Revolt Intellicorp) and Tarun Mehta (Ather Energy) to Jeetender Sharma (Okinawa Electric) said with a slew of new products coming into the market, consumer interest is peaking and this would help trigger the switch-over to emobility in the next three to five years.
Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma — who is venturing into the electric mobility space with Revolt IntelliCorp — said the government’s proposal for mass electrification of two-wheelers can be realised in the next three years. He said unavailability of appropriate products in the space had kept consumers from buying electric two-wheelers.
“If you give them (users) a great looking product and then tell them that there are no daily expenses on fuel, why will the market not shift? Till now electric products didn’t give such performance. Consumers were looking for something which wasn’t available in the market. That is why I am saying the market will shift in three years,” Sharma told ET. As many as 21 million two-wheelers were sold in the local market in the last financial year.
Revolt IntelliCorp will begin sales of AI-enabled motorcycle RV 400 by the end of next month. The product delivers a range of 156 km on a single charge. Sharma said that while the vehicle will be priced similar to petrol-powered two-wheelers and will come equipped with premium connected features, the running costs will be ten times cheaper. Revolt will set up swappable battery stations every 3-5 km, deliver batteries at door step to address consumer concerns over range anxiety.
Tarun Mehta, co-founder, Ather Energy, concurred, “This (mass electrification of two-wheelers) will not take a decade. It can happen in the next 2-3 years. We are delivering only in Bengaluru at present, and we have a waiting period of 4-5 months. Supply is limited but consumer interest is peaking. This is the right time for the government to mandate mass electrification…Large manufacturers have the scale to meet this demand.”
Mehta, who believes demand for electric vehicles “will go through the roof ” in future, said automakers’ concerns over lack of availability of charging infrastructure and a competitive vendor base for locally manufacturing electric two-wheelers are outdated. “It does not take a lot of investment to set up charging infrastructure for two-wheelers. As far as local manufacturing is concerned, there are a lot of vendors today who are hungry to get into the e-mobility space. And if there is demand of such scale, component makers will respond,” he said.
“We are in 2019 and the government is talking of 2025. Six years is a reasonable time frame for manufacturers who have the will to launch electric products. In 2000, when the government mandated a ban on two-stroke twowheelers, the change happened overnight... it (mass electrification of two-wheelers) is doable”, agreed Jeetender Sharma, founder, Okinawa Autotech.
The support for the move from newage entrepreneurs have come at a time when industry veterans from Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj, Hero Moto-Corp chairman Pawan Munjal, HMSI president Minoru Kato to TVS Motor Company chairman Venu Srinivasan have criticised reports that alluded to a plan of setting a 2023 deadline for three-wheelers and 2025 for two-wheelers up to 150cc engine capacity to run on batteries.
Industry captains have termed the deadline ‘unrealistic’ and said such a move, if implemented, would risk derailing auto manufacturing, which supports millions of jobs.