Battery makers see new market in electric scooter segment

June 19th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 19 (IANS) Battery manufacturers have begun working on products tailor-made for India’s nascent electric scooter segment. “There is a huge interest in developing batteries for electric two-wheelers as this sector is expected to take off in three years,” S. Vijayanand, research and development vice-president at Amara Raja Batteries Ltd, told IANS. “We are working with Johnson Controls, our joint venture partner, for a suitable product.”

According to him, a sales volume of 300,000 electric scooters per year should enthuse battery manufacturers to start catering to this segment.

“At that volume, there will be a demand for one million units of traction batteries. The replacement market will give us good volumes,” he added.

But Vijayanand said battery manufacturers faced a challenge: they had to increase the power of products to ensure a single charge gave longer travel distance.

“The expectation is that the range should be 40 kilometres per charge and the battery life should be 12 months, trouble-free,” he said.

According to an industry official, an electric scooter makes economic sense for a buyer only if the battery life is increased to two and half years. But electric scooter companies say the average life of battery is currently around one and half years, after which it has to be replaced.

A battery today costs upwards of Rs.6,000, as there is no domestic manufacturer of traction batteries, a vital component of an electric scooter.

Compared to the conventional scooters made of steel and featuring more components, an electric scooter is made of plastic and has just two major components - battery and motor.

However, electric scooters cost almost the same as the conventional ones, giving rise to the perception that sellers are adopting a “skim the market” pricing strategy.

But Avinash Bhandari, director of operations at electric scooter manufacturer Electrotherm, contested the claim that these vehicles were priced too high.

“In an electric scooter, the motor is the engine and the battery is the fuel tank. We provide the vehicle with fuel for one and half years. People should understand this,” he told IANS.

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