Two-wheelers have, without a doubt, been a popular choice of transport countrywide for decades. Now, as the automobile industry, both global and national, is steadily shifting towards the electrification of vehicles, electric scooters are gaining traction. Featuring electric motors and battery packs instead of internal combustion engines, these scooters have taken the country by storm since their inception owing to their ease of use, low operating costs, and of course, their climate-positive nature.
With a plethora of options currently available in the Indian market, coming to a concrete decision about which electric scooter to buy can be quite the challenge. Weighing the pros and cons before making a purchase is of the utmost importance to ensure that you end up with a quality product and get the most out of your electric scooter. Let us take a deep dive into the top options and what they bring to the table so that you can make an informed choice.
Ather is a Bengaluru-based startup that was amongst the first to revolutionize the electric two-wheeler industry in the country with the Ather 450 electric scooter that was made available in 2018. With their cutting-edge technology, they disproved the negative impression surrounding electric two-wheelers. Last year, they kicked it up several notches with the Ather 450X. This AI-enabled scooter, much like its predecessor, is packed to the brim with new and exciting features.
The 450X is powered by a 3.3 kW/6 kW (continuous/peak) motor generating 26 Nm of torque. This enables the scooter to reach 40 kmph in 3.3 seconds and 60 kmph in just 6.5 seconds. The new and improved throttle maps are an added bonus. Compared to the Ather 450, the curb weight has been bumped down by a whopping 11 kilos. This is primarily due to revisions in the dashboard area as well as the optimized electronics packaging. The 50/50 weight distribution and the relatively firmer front suspension further contribute to its agility.
The scooter boasts a modern design along with a sleek aerodynamic profile. Its standout features include the Android-powered 7-inch IP65 rated touchscreen LCD instrument cluster with Bluetooth connectivity. This display shows almost anything you could possibly need while on the road—from incoming calls to navigation and even the nearest charging points. Other highlights include the 22L under-seat storage space and reverse assist amongst others.
The price of the Ather 450X is certainly on the steep side, even more so than the Ather 450. It does, however, improve significantly on its previous model and pack in myriad features that can make riding an overall splendid experience while also being convenient and environmentally friendly.
Bajaj Chetak Electric
The iconic Bajaj Chetak scooter has always been widely popular for its sturdiness and longevity. It is undoubtedly one of the best vintage scooters in the country. Last year, Bajaj Auto launched its first electric scooter and named it after its renowned predecessor. The Bajaj Chetak Electric is powered by a 3.8 kW/4.1 kW (continuous/peak) electric motor paired to a lithium-ion battery pack, delivering a range of 95 km in Eco mode and 85 km in Sport mode.
The Chetak Electric is a premium product and comes for a hefty price tag. As such, it boasts premium build quality and comes loaded with top-notch features such as LED lighting, feather-touch switchgear, and a digital instrument cluster. The scooter is definitely a sight to behold with its neo-retro design that looks somewhat like a modernized Vespa. The superb paint quality and the sleek aerodynamic design make it all the more desirable.
The seat, however, is relatively small and does not leave a comfortable amount of room for the pillion. The handlebars of the Chetak Electric are also somewhat low which can make U-turns a little uncomfortable for tall people. This scooter falls behind its nearest competitors when it comes to technology and features. There is no color TFT instrument cluster. The available round negative LCD unit, though neat and informative, is difficult to read in bright sunlight owing to its reflective curved cover. Smartphone connectivity using Bluetooth is also on offer, but it does not assist with navigation.
Charging the scooter from zero to a hundred percent takes roughly five hours from a standard 5A outlet. Fast-charging is, unfortunately, not an option. The keyless start is a fine addition. There are two available variants for this scooter—the Urbane and the Premium. The only mechanical difference between the two is that the Urbane features a front drum brake while the Premium comes with a disc brake. There are, however, a few differences between the two in terms of appearance.
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Launched in January last year, the TVS iQube was made to take on its competitors, the neo-retro Bajaj Chetak Electric and the Ather 450X. It is powered by a 4.4 kW electric motor and can sprint from 0 to 40 kmph in as little as 4.2 seconds. As claimed by TVS, the iQube has a range of 75 km and boasts a TFT instrument cluster with Bluetooth connectivity.
This electric scooter has a fairly simple yet sleek and modern design with great build quality. It is extremely silent and refined, both of which are highly desirable features in an electric scooter. The standout feature of the iQube is the Q-park Assist which is comparable to the reverse mode available in many electric two-wheelers. It does have an edge over the others as the Q-park Assist has two modes instead of the usual one—reverse and forward.
The suspension setup in the iQube bears resemblance to that of the Jupiter but has been optimized to be able to handle the additional weight of the batteries. The raised floorboard is somewhat problematic, especially for tall riders. The scooter also does not come with a fast-charging option as of yet.
The price of the TVS iQube is on the higher side but it does offer a fairly wide selection of amazing features which are well worth the price tag.
Hero Electric Optima ER
The Hero Electric Optima remains one of the most popular electric two-wheelers in India, thanks to its affordability. In 2019, Hero launched a new and improved model of the Optima under the name of Hero Electric Optima ER which belongs to the brand’s High-Speed series of two-wheelers.
The 0.6 kW/1.3 kW (continuous/peak) motor powering this scooter does not seem all that much in comparison to its competitors, but it is significantly more affordable than the other scooters on this list and therefore not restricted to just a small group of people who can afford it. The Optima ER has two portable lithium-ion batteries that can be removed and charged indoors. It has a combined distance range of 110 km per charge and a top speed of 42 kmph which, again, may not seem too impressive but is definitely more than sufficient for the average urban rider.
The appearance of the scooter is fairly simple and conventional but quite sleek due to the aerodynamic design. It runs on stylish 16-inch alloy wheels and the single-piece seat has quite good cushioning, making it comfortable for both the rider as well as the pillion. Available in three colors—matte grey, cyan and matte red—the Optima ER boasts fantastic build quality.
The telescopic suspension setup in this electric scooter makes the ride quite smooth, taking on potholes and bumpy roads without impacting the rider too much. It also has a moderately feature-rich digital instrument cluster with a speedometer, an odometer, a trip meter, and a battery power indicator. There is, however, no distance range reminder, something that could have come in really handy. There is a nifty USB charging port that can be used to charge your phone or wireless headphones.
The electric two-wheeler industry in India is growing at a steady pace, with several new models being launched every year. While electric scooters do tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum, a number of more affordable models are being manufactured so that more people can finally make the switch to clean energy. If you are looking to purchase an electric scooter, doing your research before coming to a conclusion is key. Depending on your budget, use case scenario, and the features that you are looking for, you can pick one of the scooters mentioned in this article or go for an alternative that suits your needs better.