Chennai

City to get 500 electric bikes by end of January 2020

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Number of smart bike users is going up steadily; more stations to come up

By the end of January 2020, Chennai will have a fleet of 500 electric bikes, which can be hired on a rental basis.

To start with, the bikes will be available in Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), East Coast Road (ECR), at Metro and MRTS stations and popular residential and commercial centres.

The project will be implemented by SmartBike Mobility Private Limited in collaboration with Mahindra Susten, a part of the Mahindra Group.

Dharmin Dontamsetti, co-founder and managing director, SmartBike Mobility, who is a cyclist, told The Hindu: “We wish to launch 500 electric bikes by the end of January 2020. IT hubs across Chennai will be our prime targets,” he added. All the stations will have infrastructure for recharging the vehicles.

When asked about the cost involved in the electric bike venture, he refused to divulge the details, but said that the firm was completely bootstrapped.

An analyst who tracks the two-wheeler market said that a vehicle would cost between ₹70,000 to ₹75,000, including infrastructure.

SmartBike Mobility started its journey in Chennai with about 25 stations and 250 bikes, which has now grown to 500 bikes with about 50 locations. There are plans to add more eco bikes to the fleet.

The firm intends to have 500 stations across Chennai with over 5,000 smart bikes and electric bikes by the end of 2020.

“The Chennai market has been very responsive compared to other similar markets, as it has already matured as a metropolitan city in public transportation system,” Mr. Dontamsetti said. He added that the bikes are being used by almost all segments of people, including students, office-goers, tourists, leisure riders and health-conscious people.

C. Kushaal Challani, a student of Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School, who is a regular user, said the mode of transport was quite cheap. “I take these bikes to go to my tuition class. It costs me ₹5.90 for the first one hour and after that I'm charged ₹9 per half an hour,” he said.

He added that in case there is a breakdown or any other issue with the vehicle one can reach the helpline and the smart bike will be picked up by the team.

According to the data provided by SmartBike Mobility, currently more than 500 people are using these bikes every day. “We have reached about 500 plus rides on weekdays and around 1,000 plus on weekends. More than 50% are repeat customers,” Mr. Dontamsetti said.

Currently, users are riding 3-5 km on the smart bikes. With the launch of electric bikes, the firm feels that the number of kilometres will increase.

Smart bike users said that the reason why they don't take long distance journey is poor roads. “Chennai roads and traffic is a big concern. If road infrastructure is strengthened more people would opt for this mode of transportation,” said Ramesh, a techie who uses these bikes.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:42:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/city-to-get-500-electric-bikes-by-end-of-january-2020/article30392460.ece

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