The EV bug has caught both manufacturers and customers in India and the future of the EV roadmap looks bright and filled with potential. Already, we have seen an unprecedented rush in the purchase of electric scooters in the past year, thanks in part to the stellar products brought to market by brands like Ather, Ola, PureEV, Hero Electric, and Simple Energy. With interest in electric scooters at an all-time high, it is time to address a segment of the market that, although currently underdeveloped, can become a huge success in the coming years.
Yes, we are talking about electric-petrol hybrid scooters in India. In 2022, hybrid technology is already a winner when you consider cars. Most major manufacturers have introduced some kind of hybrid tech in their production cars, with brands such as Honda and Toyota going the extra mile and creating extremely innovative products that are truly first-in-class. Mainstays like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai have started using hybrid tech in their budget production cars. However, the hybrid boom has yet to hit the scooter market.
In this article, we will talk about electric-petrol hybrid tech, what it can bring to the table for a popular convenience commuter format like the scooter, and the products currently on offer that can give you a sample of this ingenious technology.
What is an Electric-Petrol Hybrid?
Most vehicles in India use internal combustion engines, coupled with their fuel of choice, for operation. The electric vehicle market has opened up new possibilities with several scooters, motorcycles, cars, and passenger commuter vehicle models that can drive with electric power alone. Hybrid tech is the happy middle ground that has huge potential in a growing market such as India.
In short, hybrid tech retains the ICE components of the vehicle but supplements it with a small battery and electric motor. The idea for the electric drivetrain is to complement the ICE system, both in order to provide some tangible driving and convenience benefits as well as to provide customers with better fuel efficiency numbers and lowered running costs. Hybrid vehicles are also better for the environment. While they do not go the whole way in providing emission-free driving as purely electric vehicles do, their improvement over pure ICE vehicles is significant.
So, an electric-petrol hybrid scooter will have the usual ICE engine, drivetrain, and fuel tank. However, there will also be a small electric motor and battery which can complement the motor, provide a boost to initial pickup, operate at low speeds without having to engage the ICE system, and provide better cost-effectiveness.
Types of Hybrid Tech
So far, two kinds of hybrid vehicles have been brought to the market, with many variations in execution that can keep EV enthusiasts busy for days on end. Here are the broad distinctions –
- Plugin Hybrid – A plugin hybrid vehicle typically has a medium-sized battery and a powerful electric drivetrain. While this can certainly complement the ICE engine, the usage is meant to cover a much wider gamut. In plugin hybrid vehicles, you should be able to travel exclusively on electric power for large distances, enjoying all the advances that EV travel can bring. When the battery gets depleted or at higher speeds, the vehicle can intelligently switch to ICE mode. While these batteries can be charged using generators that are powered through fuel or through regenerative braking, their capacities are large enough to warrant them being charged the old-fashioned way – by plugging them in. Plugin hybrids, therefore, also give you the option to plug in your vehicle to wall power or fast EV chargers to get the batteries topped off quickly.
- Mild Hybrid – On the other hand, mild hybrid vehicles have a smaller battery that you will not be able to charge by plugging in. No such option is provided to the end-user. The battery charges exclusively through techniques like regenerative braking and using the fuel engine to power a generator. These batteries do not give you much range on pure electric power alone. Their job is more to complement and help out the ICE engine and to reduce your reliance upon it. Mild hybrid vehicles can give you better fuel efficiency numbers and help reduce running costs. For die-hard ICE fans, this is the path of least resistance for a gentle but significant crossover into electric vehicle tech.
Advantages of Electric-Petrol Hybrids
Hybrid vehicles bring to the table a series of very important benefits, most of which can be extremely meaningful to a potent and growing audience like India.
First, hybrid vehicles give you better mileage and reduce your running costs. This metric is something of sentiment to the Indian consumer and can be a major market force in helping them decide to adopt EV tech sooner rather than later.
Second, hybrid vehicles can use electric power to get you off the line very quickly – a salient property of pure electric vehicles. With stop-start traffic and city use being the primary use case scenario for a majority of Indian customers, the off-the-line surge of power that hybrid vehicles provide and the improved overtaking and evasive maneuvers it can help drivers execute can be a major selling point.
Third, hybrid tech is a great solution for people who are interested in electric vehicles and want to switch over but remain held back due to the important factors of range anxiety and charging options. With hybrid vehicles, these concerns no longer exist, and for a lot of potential customers, considering a hybrid vehicle can be exactly what they need to finally cross over to the world of EVs.
Finally, hybrid vehicles create fewer emissions and are significantly better for the environment compared with pure ICE vehicles.
With all these important benefits, it can surely be a good idea for the Indian market to open up to electric-petrol hybrid scooters in 2022. Let us take a look at the current market.
The State of the Hybrid Scooter Market in India
Considering the tremendous buzz we see in the market for pure electric scooters, it may come as a surprise to many that the electric-petrol hybrid scooter market is at its most nascent stage currently. So far, major companies have not used their tremendous marketing resources to extol the benefits of the format and, therefore, interest is still at an early stage. Nevertheless, keeping the potential of electric-petrol hybrid scooters in general and the specific factors that can make them a success in India, we can expect the market to heat up very soon and major manufacturers to come on board.
As of now, there are two models of electric-petrol hybrid scooters that you can currently purchase, with another being in the works for a 2022 release. This might be the start of something big. Here are the models –
Yamaha Fascino 125 Hybrid
The neo-retro Yamaha Fascino scooter has always been a popular choice with customers due to its lightweight, easy maneuverability, extra features, and attractive price. In 2021, Yamaha supplemented the FI BS6 model with mild-hybrid tech, making it an even more attractive proposition.
The new model has improved torque, mainly due to the inclusion of Smart Motor Generator technology where the electric motor provides a welcome boost while accelerating from a standstill. Along with this very important performance upgrade and even better fuel efficiency figures, the model also received other quality of life updates like LED headlamps, digital instrument clusters, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Yamaha RayZR 125 Hybrid
Following closely on the heels of the Fascino, Yamaha also gave its other scooter, the RayZR, the hybrid treatment. The RayZR has been a favorite of customers due to its aggressive looks and riding posture, sharp styling, and maxi-scooter-like stance. With the mild-hybrid tech, this already great product is not even more improved.
Hero Leap Hybrid (Upcoming)
The Hero Leap Hybrid scooter is an ambitious product that is scheduled to launch in late 2022. This takes the hybrid approach one step further, choosing the plugin hybrid model. At its core, it will be an electric scooter with a powerful motor and a large battery, providing great range and instant torque on tap.
The unique feature is that a small and super-efficient 125cc ICE engine, along with a tiny 3-liter fuel tank, will act as a “range extender”, only coming into action to charge the battery via a generator circuit. This ingenious design, according to the manufacturer, will not only increase the top speed of the scooter when in use but will also extend its range a whopping four times.
Electric-Petrol Hybrid Scooters in India 2022 – The Future
With a few products already in the market and major brands understanding the significance that hybrid tech can have in the budding EV space in India, the market for hybrid scooters is poised to hit new highs in the coming years.
As major players in the scooter market like Honda and TVS join the bandwagon and enterprising new companies bring more innovative solutions to the market, expect the hybrid scooter segment in India to become one of its most lucrative in the near future.