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TVS Motor drives into e-scooter market with the iQube Electric

TVS Motor, flagship of the $8.5 billion TVS Group, has already begun roll out of BS-VI two wheelers.
BENGALURU: Two-wheeler manufacturer TVS Motor unveiled its electric scooter iQube Electric in Bengaluru on Saturday, another big-ticket entry into a growing market occupied by Bajaj, Hero Electric and a clutch of new firms heralding the electric transition.

The iQube boasts a 4.4 kW electric motor. It can accelerate up to 40 kmph within 4.2 seconds; its top speed has been pegged at 78 kmph and can cross 75 km in full charge.

Technologically, the iQube Electric comes with parking assistance, range indications, battery charge status, smart-ride statistics, geo-fencing and so on. TVS has announced that the iQube, indigenously designed and built, has been priced at Rs 1.15 lakh on road.

The scooter will be available in Bengaluru beginning Monday.

TVS Motor Chairman Venu Srinivasan, a Deming Distinguished Services Award winner, said the move towards electric was in line with the aspirations of the country’s youngsters: go digital, be connected and adopt sustainable modes of transportation.

Srinivasan said the company has setup a manufacturing capacity of 1,000 units a month, and hopes to close monthly sales in January at 100 units sold in Bengaluru. TVS Motor has partnered with Bescom to create charging infrastructure in Bengaluru.

TVS also unveiled home charging and public charging Infrastructural support plans along with the launch of iQube Electric.

The electric scooter was launched by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways. Gadkari said the government has initiated work on setting charging stations near traditional fuel bunks in the country.

TVS Motor, which sells two-wheelers across consumer segments from commuters to racers, had on Friday teased Twitter with short videos featuring the words Charge. It triggered speculation of an all-electric offering from the southern automaker.
The iCube is the first pure electric offering from TVS Motor.

TVS Motor Company had earlier invested in electric two-wheeler start-up Ultraviolette Automotive, getting into the performance segment of the new technology industry. Ultraviolette sells the F77, sporting a 3x modular Lithium-Ion battery packs with 4.2 kWh maximum capacity.

The Centre had announced a few weeks back that 2636 electric charging stations would be set up across the country, expressing hope that Original Equipment Manufacturers will launch eVs to leverage the infrastructure development.

Globally, automotive companies have been spelling out future strategies that have encompassed electrification.
Bajaj has launched an electric version of its iconic scooter brand Chetak on January 14, pricing its versions at Rs 1-1.15 lakh.
Bengaluru-based Ather, incubated in IIT-Madras and backed by Flipkart Co-founder Sachin Bansal, has said its new Ather 450x will be unveiled on January 28.

On Saturday, Kia Motors, a Korean carmaker and affiliate of Hyundai, had unveiled a mid-to long-term strategy to release 11 eVs and a target of 6.6% market share by 2025.

Providers of charging solutions say the entry of large players such as TVS clear the pitch for an accelerated shift towards electric vehicles. Wybren van der Vaart, co-founder and CEO of charging solutions startup BrightBlu, said: "With TVS going the electric way, it is clear that the global wave of electrification has well and truly reached India's shores and is here to stay. Depending on how well the automotive industry is capable or riding this wave will determine the fortune of this industry for decades to come."

Automotive industry executives say TVS’ timing of entry presents an opportunity for the industry to boost sentiments, strained by a sustained slowing of sales in recent quarters. “The customer would also have a wider choice of good quality eV bikes at various performance and price levels. Established brands like Hero Electric, Bajaj and TVS would certainly give confidence and trust to the prospective customers leading to increased adoption. B2B segment is also showing keen interest in adopting cost effective mobility solutions,” Sohinder Gill, Director-General, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV). According to SMEV, a total of 1.2 lakh electric two wheelers were sold in India in 2018-19, a market slated for high growth rates.

Recently, there have been some concerns about the eligibility of certain electric two-wheeler models for incentives under the Centre’s FAME 2 scheme. Gill said “a thorough re-look“ into the FAME 2 was necessary. “It (the re-look) will catalyse a substantial growth in the electric two wheelers in line with the nations target of having atleast 30% two wheelers as electric in 5 years,” he said.

TVS Motor, flagship of the $8.5 billion TVS Group, has already begun roll out of BS-VI two wheelers, starting the release of the vehicles with the new emission norms with the TVS Apache RTR 4V series of vehicles.

(This correspondent was in Bengaluru at the invitation of TVS Motor Company)
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