A recent coast to coast ride on e-scooters and bikes from Kollam to Chennai drove home the green message

D. Raghuram's office is a bit out of the ordinary. Riding gloves and cycling headgear compete with project reports for space. As president of TI Cycles, he can confine himself to strategic planning; but he wants to be more hands-on. He tries the cycles and e-scooters made by his company — not just on the test track. He spearheads a programme that involves long-distance riding by senior officials of TI Cycles and BSA Motors, the electric scooters division.

In February this year, Raghuram and a clutch of top officials pedalled 1264 km from Pune to Chennai. Later in November, he led a similar cycling expedition from Udaipur to Delhi. The upper crust of the TI group made news again early this week, when they completed what was dubbed the “BSA Hercules Coast to Coast Ride” from Kollam to Chennai.

The 743-km ride, undertaken on electric scooters and bikes, had halts in cities and towns along the way to promote the range. In Kollam, Kottayam, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Kovilpatti, Sattur, Madurai and Tiruchi, the team met school children, cycle mechanics, customers, dealers and mediapersons.

Rajesh Mani, head, marketing, TI Cycles, says people warm up to electric scooters and bikes, because they understand that using them translates into considerable savings on commuting. The fact that electric vehicles promote a green environment may not be important to the individual, but Rajesh is confident that in the future this will be a reason for adopting this mode of transport. He believes awareness about the wider benefits of e-scooters is already on the rise. In Kerala, an eight-year-old boy said e-scooters don't emit poisonous gases and those that run on petrol do.

Backed by feedback from parents, Raghuram says a new category of electric bikes from TI — a form of cycles fitted with motors, but not shorn of pedals — will be popular with them. Since these e-bikes have a maximum speed of 25 km/h, parents are reassured that their children will not get into trouble.

The Government subsidy for electric scooters and bikes has improved the prospects of this segment in the automobile industry, says Raghuram. “The fact that this subsidy is provided only to manufacturers of these vehicles will act as a check on fly-by-night operators,” he says. “The electric scooter segment was earlier unorganised and, as a result, attracted adverse publicity. The situation having changed, it is poised for an exponential growth.”