They keep your pocket cool and are the best bet to rising fuel prices. Yet the electric two-wheelers are not a rage in Kerala.
The market is ruled by Chinese made vehicles and come in a variety of designs and colours. Plugging and charging on electric power for several hours is certainly not convenient for the general public. That, of course, is a major reason behind the slow pace of growth. Nevertheless, there are signs of improvement and the companies engaged in marketing of the electric two-wheelers are pinning hopes on revival of government subsidy.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had withdrawn the subsidy element allowed for the electric two wheelers five months ago.
Out of the nine companies that ventured into assembling and marketing of electric two wheelers during the past few years, three have bowed out due to a variety of reasons. Fading out in a new venture is not an uncommon phenomenon, says George, a top ranking official of Ampere, an electric two-wheeler brand having R&D office and parts manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu. The company makes all the parts except battery, according to him.
Sealed lead acid batteries are the most commonly used ones in the electric two wheelers currently available in the country. The lithium-ion batteries, the more sophisticated version, are costlier and hence the marketmen are wary of making use of them.
About 80 per cent of the electric two-wheeler users are people who are not keen to have the conventional petrol driven vehicles. The electric two-wheelers powered by a motor with a capacity less than 250 watts do not require a licence from motor vehicles department, says Mr.George. Such vehicles are certified by Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). With about 600 electric two-wheelers being sold in Kerala per month on an average by all the players in the market, there is huge scope for the product to catch up with the general awareness on a more environment-friendly vehicle.