Entry of established brands is crucial for widespread adoption of electric two-wheelers in the country
Electric two-wheelers surely look promising, but issues persist such as high acquisition cost and underdeveloped charging infrastructure. EV fires are further eroding consumer confidence in these vehicles. Another limiting factor is the absence of leading brands such as Honda, Hero MotoCorp, Yamaha, Suzuki and Royal Enfield. EV sales could be much higher if top brands launch their respective products. As of now, TVS and Bajaj are the only mainstream manufacturers to offer electric two-wheelers.
Honda Electric Scooter launch in April 2023 – Will it be Activa Electric
Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) has announced that it will start its innings here with an electric scooter in April 2023. It is not yet clear if this will be the much awaited Activa electric, or something else. More details will be revealed on 29th March. It is to note that Honda already sells a range of electric two-wheelers in international markets. The same set of products could be homologated and launched in India.
According to Atsushi Ogata, president MD & CEO at HMSI, the company will have a diversified portfolio of EVs in India. Honda will have three categories of electric two-wheelers in India, based primarily on their top speed. One of the focus areas will be Electric Bike (EB), which will have a top speed of 25 kmph. Second category of Honda EVs will be Electric Moped (EM), which will have a top speed of around 50 kmph.
Third category will be Electric Vehicle (EV), which will have a top speed of more than 50 kmph. The first EB category vehicles will not require any registration or driving license. EMs and EVs will have to comply with the standard set of rules, as applicable for petrol powered two-wheelers. Ogata said that the launch of the electric scooter will be followed by the launch of a high-speed EV.
Globally, Honda has plans to introduce 10 new electric two-wheelers by 2025. The company will also be launching flex-fuel two-wheelers in international markets. Some of these EVs and flex-fuel vehicles could be introduced in India as well. An electric version of top selling Activa is one of the compelling possibilities for Indian market.
Primary focus remains on ICE segment
While Honda has chalked out aggressive plans for EV space, Ogata said that the company’s primary focus will continue to be petrol-powered two-wheelers. It’s understandable, as ICE-based two-wheeler market is still huge and will remain so for several more years.
A complete shift to EVs will necessitate changes to the entire supply chain and production ecosystem, which will take time to implement. Consumer psychology is another limiting factor, as there’s usually hesitation to accept something new.
Things are expected to improve for EVs in the future, with availability of more advanced, affordable and long lasting batteries. A number of new battery technologies are currently being evaluated. In case of a major breakthrough, issues like range anxiety, high battery price, EV fires, etc. will become a thing of the past.