Opinion: Is it really that Simple?

    The Simple One electric scooter gets a fixed 3.7kWh battery in the floorboard and a 1.3kWh removable battery.

    Published on Jun 07, 2023 07:00:00 AM


    Headline: Opinion: Is it really that Simple?

    On the evening of August 15, 2021, I remember asking a friend in the two-wheeler industry what his thoughts were on the two big launches that day – Ola Electric and Simple Energy. Obviously, there was a whole lot to say on the first one, but I clearly recall him dismissing the latter with a “the Simple is still a prototype, it's far too early to say anything”.

    And sure enough, the first opportunity to actually ride the Simple electric scooter only came one year later - and even then it felt quite some distance from being production ready. You can (and should) criticise Simple for taking nearly two years to actually launch their product after the first ‘launch’ event. But unlike certain rivals, they also deserve some credit for taking the extra time to try and get things right. 

    By now though, I think we’ve gotten used to the start-up way of hyping a product that is years from ready – remember the Oben Rorr and the Orxa Mantis? Yes, it's easy to point fingers, and I fully appreciate just how monumentally challenging it is to pull this off, which is why I have huge respect for the few startups that have actually managed to do so. Especially for those who did it quietly. Unfortunately, things are about to get vastly more difficult.

    With the recent FAME-II subsidy revision, scooters like Ola, Ather and others that were getting a massive Rs 50,000-60,000 in subsidies will see that number slashed down to Rs 20,000 or less. And that’s just till March 2024 – or until the funds last. With 2024 being an election year, who knows what the future of this subsidy will be.

    Let's face it, hand-holding is essential for a while, but every parent (in this case, the government) needs to know when to let go. Unfortunately for new players like Simple Energy and River (another Bengaluru-based start-up whose product looks very promising), the timing couldn't be worse.

    First they had to re-engineer to comply with the stricter AIS-156 battery norms, then there was dealing with huge waiting periods at certification agencies to get their products type-approved and just when they reach the finish line they’re met by a draining FAME-II subsidy, which has been the lifeblood for most EV players.

    At Rs 1.45 lakh, the Simple One is among the most expensive of the current EVs, but that will soon change when rivals revise their prices from June to account for the reduced subsidy. Simple says its price will remain fixed and for what this scooter has to offer, that is very reasonable, even if it’s significantly higher than the rather unrealistic initial promise.

    As is the way of the typical start-up, Simple will be burning through huge piles of investor cash to sustain this price with that massive 5kWh battery. I’m not smart enough to fully appreciate the start-up philosophy of burn now – build valuation – and maybe earn later. However, Simple has been smart enough with its battery pack design that it can simply ditch the underseat removable battery pack in the future. That will allow a smaller battery, and thereby, a more realistic price when the cash piles eventually burn out.

    Also See:

    Opinion: Life without the Fame 2 subsidy


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