Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India – the Indian two wheeler division of the Japanese automotive giant – is working on electric two wheelers for the Indian market. The Managing Director of this company Atsushi Ogata, in a recent interaction with ETAuto, confirmed that Honda is putting together an electric variant of the best-selling Activa automatic scooter. Honda will launch its first electric scooter in India next year. However, it isn’t clear if Honda’s first electric scooter will be the electric variant of the Activa.
Here’s what Mr. Atsushi Ogata had to say about the electric Activa,
In the past six months, we have had serious discussions with our team in Japan, where we are running a bunch of popular electric scooters. We have done our feasibility studies and now we are all set to embark on the actual development stage in collaboration with our Japanese engineers. With the prices of petrol going up, the demand for battery-operated scooters is on the rise. We are creating a ‘futuristic Activa’ which in itself will be a new segment that will cater to the additional requirements of short distance travel within the city in the urban and semi-urban regions.
Honda plans to aggressively localize components for its electric two wheelers so that it’s affordable for a large number of buyers. The two wheeler giant is also considering battery swapping options to keep the initial purchase cost affordable, and eliminate range anxiety – a big challenge for the greater adoption of electric vehicles.
All electric vehicle makers operating in India currently source lithium cells (a major component of batteries that power EVs) from countries such as China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. This will change next year as Ola Electric plans to manufacture lithium cells in India, from its new Gigafactory. This development is expected to cut Ola electric scooter prices by 25 %. We expect other EV makers to adopt similar steps to make EVs more affordable.
Meanwhile, electric scooters are proliferating in both urban and semi-urban parts of India thanks to rising fuel prices and attractive government subsidies on electric vehicles. Growing environmental consciousness is another reason why more buyers are looking at electric vehicles for their everyday commuting needs. Hero Electric and Okinawa are two of the leading brands in the electric scooter segment even as legacy two wheeler giants such as Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors have now made inroads into this segment. Ather Energy and Ola Electric are India’s best known electric vehicle start-ups, and command significant brand recall although their market share is still a fraction of that of market leaders Hero Electric and Okinawa.