Electrotherm India Ltd (EIL), the Gujarat-based manufacturer of battery-powered two-wheelers called YObykes, is now working on what could be the first electric motorcycle in India.
Highly placed sources in the company indicated that it already has the technology in-house. "We already have the drive-train or the battery that powers these vehicles. One now needs to upgrade that to suit the power required for motorcycles," said the source who did not wish to be identified. He, however, added that the motorbike is not expected anytime within this year as the project still on the drawing board stage.
"We do not need to make significant investments for the product. We can manufacture it at our Kutch plant. However, we need to design the chassis for the vehicle. We are working on that", the official added. EIL has sold over 75,000 scooters since its launch in February 2006. It has a manufacturing facility in Kutch with a capacity of 2,88,000 vehicles per annum and sold around 20,000 scooters in 2009-10.
EIL launched the alpha-weaver technology based batteries last year that now power its electric scooters. The company has taken two years to develop the alpha-weaver batteries indigenously. It used to import 100,000 battery packs from China earlier. It plans to sell 40,000 vehicles in 2010-11.
The 'alpha-weaver' battery, as against the lead-acid batteries increase the travel range of the electric bikes from 70 kilometers(km) for a single charge to over 105 km, at the same time bringing down the charging time from eight to four hours. These batteries are also lighter by six kilograms compared to conventional batteries, claimed EIL.
Currently, the company has seven electric bike variants of which two are high-speed variants. It plans to introduce two more scooters in the same segment during 2010. EIL expects the high-speed segment to account for two-thirds of its sales within the next two years.
Talking of the power of electric motorbikes, Austrian company KTM that offers its $ 13,500 bike 'Freeride' in two versions, has replaced the engine with a compact 30 horsepower electric motor, capable of producing 43Nm torque and can reach a top speed of 43 miles per hour. The KTM electric motorbike makes use of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for supplying electricity to the motor that takes 1.5 hours to charge fully and can run nonstop for an hour.
"We believe that there is market for the electric motorcycles, but the pricing has to be right.", the source said.
EIL scooters are now priced between Rs 21,000 and Rs 47,000. Nearly, 95,000 electric scooters were sold during 2008-09 and the industry is expected to grow by 10 per cent this fiscal.