Right time to buy an EV?

    The infrastructure is far from ready, but the new subsidies are getting very tempting.

    Published on Jul 13, 2021 07:00:00 AM


    Right time to buy an EV?

    Thanks to the revised FAME II subsidy, as well as additional state-level EV subsidies, many of the cheaper EVs out there might now cost even less than a 125cc scooter. But as we’ve said repeatedly, apart from the Ather 450, Bajaj Chetak and TVS iQube, pretty much every electric two-wheeler currently on sale in India originates from the Chinese empire. If you’re looking for an electric two-wheeler, you’ll find the Indian trio to be your best options – not out of blind national pride, but because of the significantly higher levels of quality and performance they offer. 

    Sadly, the Bajaj Chetak doesn’t meet the FAME II requirements, and at Rs 1.44 lakh for the Premium version, it is on par with the Ather 450X as the most expensive electric two-wheeler on sale in India today. Only, it isn’t actually on sale because bookings have been closed for quite a while now. 

    With Bajaj losing out big time, TVS is the real winner here. The FAME II revision brought the iQube’s price down to Rs 1.1 lakh on road in Bengaluru, and Delhi’s additional subsidy reduces that by a further Rs 10,000. If the iQube were available in Gujarat, it would probably cost around Rs 90,000 on road, which is right on par with the established 125cc scooter segment. The problem is that the iQube is available in just four cities for now, with TVS planning to extend that to 20 by next March. 

    Ather, meanwhile, is available in 18 cities, but with a starting price of Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-showroom), many will still find it far too expensive for a daily runabout. Clearly, all three are not without their issues, and that holds true for the EV market in general at the moment. Public charging infrastructure is negligible, and the real-world range available from even the best e-scooters will keep them imprisoned within city limits. 

    But that’s exactly why subsidies exist, right? To make something largely unappealing become far less so. With the lower price gap to ICE scooters, the advantages of the exponentially lower running costs are suddenly far more tantalising. Besides that, there’s the ecological feel-good factor and the fact that smooth and silent EVs can be much nicer to commute on than their petrol counterparts. I also have no doubt we’ll learn to work around the frequent charging requirements, just like we did when our dumb phones began to get smart all those years ago. 

    EVs will only improve with time and range probably won’t be a significant bother in two or three years. But remember, subsidies will only last so long, and we live in a world where things only get more expensive. Buying an EV might still be a little premature today, considering the number of good options in the market, their availability and the range they offer. However, that’s going to change quickly, perhaps significantly when the Ola Electric scooter debuts. 

    The various subsidies are sure to be with us for the next two to four years at the least, and I think we’ll soon be at a point where it becomes a smart move to buy an EV if your daily commute distance allows for it and you have the ability to charge one at home.


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