About a year ago, we broke the news that Suzuki was developing a cost-effective electric scooter for our market that is expected to be launched sometime next year. Patent images of an e-scooter have now emerged and we believe this could be the very model that’s headed to a Suzuki showroom near you.
A close inspection of the leaked patent image reveals that Suzuki is indeed trying to develop an e-scooter that won't require customers to break the bank. Take the design of the frame, for instance. The use of tubular and square-section steel as well as a simple frame layout suggests that Suzuki is keeping a watch on input costs, both in terms of materials and manufacturing processes.
What is also visible is the placement of the battery and the frame-mounted electric motor right underneath it. This motor will power the rear wheel via a typical belt drive system. This is another way to remain cost-effective and shows Suzuki's approach in comparison to the Bajaj Chetak (which has a swing arm-mounted unit) and TVS’ iQube, which has a hub-mounted motor.
The Suzuki scooter's lithium-ion battery pack appears to be removable, which will make it convenient for people to haul up to their home or office and charge using a regular wall socket. It also gives the Suzuki a slight advantage over the Chetak and iQube as neither feature removable batteries. The only downside is that battery packs are heavy and it's not entirely practical to carry it up a flight of stairs. Besides the removable battery, there will be a charging socket in the scooter for those looking to simply connect a cable and charge the scooter while it's parked.
While we don't have any details about the size of the battery or the performance specs of the electric motor, we expect Suzuki to come up with a package that'll handle daily commutes with ease. Don't expect lighting quick performance but something in the range of what a 110cc or 125cc scooter offers.
The use of a telescopic fork and conventional wheels shows that Suzuki is trying to keep design and engineering costs as low as possible as well. This should translate to a competitive price tag. We expect Suzuki will not exceed the Rs 1 lakh mark.
Also, there is no clarity if Suzuki will offer any frills like a colour TFT display, Bluetooth connectivity, mobile apps and OTA (Over the Air) updates. These features are present on scooters such as the Ather 450X and TVS iQube, but in keeping with the low-cost target, Suzuki is likely to drop such features off the list.
The patent image also suggests that the ergonomics should be like what we've seen on its petrol-powered scooters. The floorboard is low while the seat and handlebar height suggests a conventional riding position.
The other interesting bit that remains to be seen will be the scooter's styling. On one hand, we've seen Bajaj come up with the elegant Chetak while TVS has chosen a simple yet effective design for the iQube. Will Suzuki stick to its conservative styling roots or will come up with something radically different? Only time will tell.
The new Suzuki electric scooter also represents a mainstream overseas manufacturer's foray into the Indian e-scooter market. The timing couldn't be more apt as the country is warming up to the idea of electric mobility. And the sales and service advantage that Suzuki or even Bajaj and TVS have for that matter, will help instill customer confidence.
While we expect the scooter to go on sale sometime next year, the COVID-19 pandemic could push this timeline further.
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