Ampere Primus review: simple, but with a crinkle

    A short spin on the company’s first truly in-house offering gives us an idea of where it stands against the established players.

    Published on Apr 06, 2023 04:00:00 PM


    We Like
    • Safety of an LFP battery
    • Well-balanced chassis package
    We Don't Like
    • Material quality
    • Expensive for what it offers

    Ampere is one of the bigger players in the ocean of EV “start-ups” in India that has thus far been selling e-scooters designed and developed overseas. But back in 2018, the company was acquired by Greaves Cotton Ltd, and while Greaves doesn’t have any prior experience with electric mobility, it does have a vast and diverse engineering background. That factor is now coming into play, as we see with the launch of the new Primus – the company’s first truly indigenous, made-in-India, made-for-India offering. We got a brief spin on the e-scooter to see what the result is.

    Ampere Primus e-scooter price

    Within the Ampere line-up, the Primus sits at the very top – it’s priced at Rs 1.10 lakh (ex-showroom, India, except North Eastern states). And where that places it in the e-scooter market is a little below the base variant of the TVS iQube (in most cities; but in some others, the iQube is cheaper), and it's exactly on par with the Ola S1 Air in its most expensive, 4kWh guise.

    Ampere Primus e-scooter performance

    A quick look at the spec sheet also reveals some similarities to the iQube. There’s a 4kW mid-mounted motor here that delivers a claimed 0-40kph time of 4.2sec and a claimed top speed of 77kph – both figures that are virtually identical to the TVS. In the real world, though, the similarities aren’t quite so strong. Now, it’s not what you’d call slow or sluggish, but the Primus doesn’t have the zip that you’d expect from a 4kW e-scooter. Right from the off, it doesn’t feel as peppy as an iQube, and acceleration trails off quite significantly above 40kph.

    Mid-mounted 4kW motor delivers performance that's adequate for commuting, but nothing exciting.

    That said, it does continue steadily gaining speed and will eventually cross a speedo-indicated 80kph. So overall performance levels are adequate for everyday city commutes, and you’re not going to be a liability in traffic. But you’re not going to be entertained by the performance either.

    Ampere Primus e-scooter range and battery

    Giving the Primus its go-juice is a 3kWh LFP battery – this is a chemistry that offers safer thermal characteristics but slightly lower energy density than its more widespread NMC counterpart. It’s a non-removable unit housed under the seat, and it offers an ARAI-certified range of 107km, though you probably won’t get quite that much in real-world conditions. We spent most of the day riding in the highest ‘Power’ mode, and the scooter seemed on course to cover somewhere between 70km and 80km on a full charge. Once dead, Ampere says a full top-up will take about 5 hours, while an optional fast charger (price not announced yet) will cut this down to roughly 2.5 hours.

    We did notice that the SOC indicator isn’t the most accurate or reliable unit around. It only dropped 1 percent from 100 percent to 99 percent after the first 10km of riding, and then dropped a further 15 percent over the next 10km, so there is clearly still some work to be done in this area. The DTE readout also fluctuates by huge amounts very quickly depending on the riding style at any given moment, and this doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Small LCD panel is difficult to read in bright sunlight, and not very intuitive in operation.

    There were other issues with the small, Bluetooth-enabled LCD panel as well. Aside from the fact that it’s quite dim and difficult to read under bright sunlight, the single trip meter cannot be reset manually, and instead automatically resets every time the scooter is left off for a little while. Strangely, the clock seems to reset like this as well, and it’s also not possible to manually toggle between the odometer and trip meter on the screen (when you turn on the scooter you see the odo, and once you start moving it changes to the trip meter). 

    Ampere Primus e-scooter ride and handling

    I’m not very tall (5’8”), but even I found the riding position to be a little knees-up on the Primus. That aside, there’s a reasonable amount of space for both rider and pillion, and the floorboard is quite roomy too. Underseat storage space is decent, at 22 litres. The compartment is wide and fairly long, but like numerous other EVs, it’s not very deep, so it won’t fit a helmet. There’s also a fairly large cubby on the back of the apron, with a USB charger. Other features include an LED headlight, Bluetooth connectivity, three riding modes, and reverse.

    The 22-litre boot is reasonably roomy, but not very deep, so you can't fit a helmet.

    Fit levels across the scooter are quite decent, but there are a number of other ways in which the Primus feels built to a cost. Material quality isn’t up to the mark for something that costs over Rs 1 lakh, and a front drum brake is a little surprising at this price point. The rest of the chassis package is fairly decent, with 12-inch wheels at both ends. Ride quality strikes a nice middle ground – not as soft as an iQube but not as stiff as an Ather either. It feels sure-footed around corners, while still keeping you comfortable over bad patches of road. But the weak drum brakes really hold you back from upping the pace and having fun on board this scooter.


    Weak drum brakes at both ends are disappointing at this price point.


    Ampere Primus e-scooter verdict


    The Ampere Primus is a bit of a strange scooter to sum up. At Rs 1.10 lakh, it certainly isn’t cheap in absolute terms; you could get a far more capable and better equipped petrol scooter for less money. In the electric space, it is more affordable than most of the well established premium e-scooters around, but not by much. If a cost-effective, basic and simple e-scooter is what you’re after, the Primus could be worth considering and the LFP battery does have its appeal. For most people, though, the extra Rs 8,000 that the base TVS iQube demands (in Mumbai), is well worth paying. The stronger performance, better seating comfort and front disc brake on their own would justify that premium, but you also get a neat TFT display, better build and a strong reputation.

    Also See:

    Ampere Bikes

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