The past week saw the introduction of two new electric scooters in our market. The iQube – TVS’s first electric two-wheeler, making it the second major manufacturer after Bajaj to launch an electric scooter in our market – and the Ather 450X, an updated, better-equipped, more feature-packed iteration of the start-up's standard 450. The e-scooter space in India finally has multiple offerings from reputed manufacturers; so we decided to compare the battery specifications, range and features of the three to see if one of them stands out on paper.
Availability, price, and variants
The iQube is available in only one variant priced at Rs 1.15 lakh (on-road, Bengaluru) and will retail via 10 dealerships in the city. The scooter will eventually make its way to other cities; and considering TVS’ widespread reach across India, it should be relatively easy for the manufacturer to do so.
The Bajaj Chetak, too, benefits from the fact that it will be sold via existing KTM dealerships. Currently, it’s available only in Bengaluru and Pune with deliveries set to begin by the end of February. The Chetak is available in two variants – the Urbane at Rs 1 lakh and the Premium at Rs 1.15 lakh (both prices, ex-showroom). We’ll have to wait to see how factors like the FAME subsidy will affect the scooter's on-road pricing.
Given the current limited availability of the aforementioned scooters, Ather isn’t very far behind either. The company revealed that the 450X will initially be available in 10 cities, after which it will eventually make its way to more places across the country. Interestingly, the Ather X costs the least here with a price tag of Rs 99,000, but some of its features can be accessed only based on which monthly subscription pack you pick. At Rs 1,999 every month, you will get the 'Pro' package - it gets you the best possible acceleration and range (85km) along with access to fast charging at 1.5km/min. Customers can also choose the Plus plan, at Rs 1699, that drops the motor's peak output to 5.4kW and torque to 22Nm. The battery's range also falls by 10km to 75km in Eco whilst usable capacity (which is always lesser than installed capacity) sees a reduction to 2.4kWh (2.7kWh in the Pro plan). Think of it as a cellphone data plan where you'd pay more for faster browsing and buffering speeds.
The 450X can also be purchased without the subscription plan for Rs 1.49 lakh (for the Plus) and Rs 1.59 lakh for the Pro. This doesn't include the cost of the Ather connect pack, that's needed for OTA updates. Buying upfront doesn't give you access to the free fast-charging Ather Grid network either. Subscription guarantees OTA updates, the fast-charging network and an unlimited battery warranty (3 years without subscription).
At the launch of the 450X, Ather also revealed that sales of the standard 450 will soon stop.
Battery and performance
Powering the 450X is a 3.3kW/6kW (continuous/peak) motor that produces 26Nm of torque (up from the 450's 20.5Nm). The claimed top speed remains the same at 80kph, but the 0-40kph acceleration time has now improved from the Ather 450's 3.9sec to 3.3sec, which makes it the quickest scooter here. In comparison, the iQube employs a 4.4kW electric motor that propels the scooter to a claimed top speed of 78kph with a 0-40kph sprint taking 4.2sec. The Chetak, meanwhile, uses a motor with a peak power of 4.08kW and a continuous output of 3.8kW allowing the scooter to reach a limited top speed of 60kph.
TVS claims that its iQube can cover 75km on a full charge – which is around the same as the 450X, which has a claimed range of 70km in Ride mode and 85km in Eco Mode. The 450X takes 3hr 35min to get to 80 percent and 5hr 45min to get to 100 percent from zero, while the Chetak will complete a full charge from empty in 5hr. The Chetak also boasts of the most range; it's capable of 95km on a full charge.
Of the three manufacturers, Ather is the only one that is working on setting up Ather Grid – a fast-charging infrastructure that will allow you to charge your scooter at a nearby coffee shop or at the mall. The company also tells us that the fast-chargers should give you 1km of usage for every minute charged. The Chetak and iQube, on the other hand, can be charged only via the supplied charging cable.
|Battery and performance|
|Ather 450X||Bajaj Chetak||TVS iQube|
|Motor Power (Continuous/Peak)||3.3kW/6kW||3.8kW/4.08kW||4.4kW|
|Charging time (0-100%)||5 hours 45 minutes||5 hours||NA|
|Ride Modes||3 (Eco, Ride, Warp)||2 (Eco, Sport + Intuitive kickdown mode)||NA|
All three scooters offer a host of smart features. The iQube is equipped with a ‘next-gen TVS SmartXonnect platform’ that includes a TFT instrument cluster and the TVS iQube app. Both these together enable users to access features such as geo-fencing, remote battery charge status, navigation assist, last park location, incoming call alerts/SMS alerts, among others. We’re yet to properly experience this electric scooter, and details on the aforementioned features are still unknown. We have, however, spent some time with the other two.
The Chetak gets a round, simple-looking LCD display that merges into its retro design quite well. But don’t be deceived by its appearance because it does have a fair amount to offer; the unit is smartphone compatible and you can access it via an app. The app gives you access to navigation, tracking features, vehicle and battery statistics, and safety features – like if there's an alteration in charging, or if the vehicle is moved when locked. The Bajaj Chetak offers a data subscription service and the first year will be free for customers.
These features, however, are eclipsed by what the Ather 450X has to offer. It continues to boast of a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen like the standard 450, but it has been upgraded – now powered by a 1.3Ghz Snapdragon processor. The operating system too, has switched from base Linux to Open Android and the unit is now capable of 4G LTE and fitted with Bluetooth 4.2. Interestingly, Ather collects location and riding style information (including GPS data) from every scooter to improve its development, and offer OTA updates to existing customers.
The Ather 450 comes from a rapidly growing start-up, while the Chetak and iQube are from two of the largest two-wheeler manufacturers in the world. These three, however, are undoubtedly the most advanced electric scooters to be designed, developed and manufactured in India. On paper, the Ather is the smarter, more technologically equipped scooter, and also appears to be the better-performing one. The Chetak, meanwhile, boasts of the most range, and along with the iQube, it has the advantage of being able to expand to multiple cities without much hassle.
Nonetheless, these are still very early days for all three products and it will be worth seeing how their fortunes pan out over the course of 2020 and beyond.