Can the scooter succeed where the car failed? #EVs

Sunil Rajguru
New Update
electric scooter

The concept of an electric car came right alongside the petrol one in the late 19th century. While the petrol version took off and dominated the 20th century, some trial electric cars started doing the rounds only from the 1960s. Much more viable models came after the dawn of the 21st century.


Tesla Motors was formed in 2003 but the electric age of cars really got going when Elon Musk took over in 2008. Since then climate activists have been demonizing fossil fuel cars, massive subsidies have been given to electric car makers and government bodies have been pushing legislation to favour EVs. Global bodies have been backing all of this.

Despite all this the percentage of personal cars on the roads of the world that are electric has not touched even 1%. Yes, you read that right. Some cities through massive subsidies have managed to make more than 10% of their public transport electric but there is reason to believe that the future may not belong to electric cars at all.

What about scooters? That is a different story altogether. Unlike the West, in our country crores of Indians rely on a two-wheeler to get around which could be a scooter or a motorcycle. Not just for young couples, the scooter has proved to be a family vehicle. That’s why in India at least the electric scooter has a far greater chance of replacing the fossil fuel scooter or bike when compared to a petrol car going electric.


Electric cars are quite expensive and despite that may give less space than cheaper petrol cars, are more cumbersome to charge and take a greater time to do so. That’s where the electric scooter scores. Ola has introduced a model starting from just ₹1 lakh and if you up your budget a little then you can go in for an Ather, a Bajaj Chetak electric, a Simple One or the TVS iQube. Many such launches are now imminent.

While India forming a nationwide charging network for electric cars seems like a pipe dream, the same is not the case for scooters. A scooter occupies much less real estate to charge and is much faster to do so. That’s why a scooter charging park would take less space, be cheaper and take care of a greater number of vehicles. You could even take your scooter inside your home and charge it. Something unthinkable with a car.

It is for this very reason that Ola is talking about a Hypercharger Network and Ather wants to share its open proprietary fast-charging connector design with other OEMs. The cars couldn’t do it, but if the scooter companies do manage to find a common charging network, then it would be a real game changer.

Smart cars have entered the computer age. They connect to the Internet, integrate GPS and take “over the air” updates. But they are quite expensive. For example the Tesla car, the pinnacle of all electric cars, will start at a whopping ₹25 lakh when it enters India. Electric scooters can have exactly the same facilities but don’t need to cost a bomb.

It’s not that India didn’t have a choice of electric scooters, but Ola has simply upped the game and expanded it. If all these players get it right, then India could well see the 2020s emerge as the decade of the electric scooter.

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