Legacy two-wheeler makers are stepping up the EV game to take on startups

Three of India’s four biggest legacy two-wheeler brands are finally stepping up their presence in the electric vehicle (EV) segment to challenge a host of startups currently dominating this space. With improved availability of semiconductors and alleviation of supply chain issues, incumbents are stepping on the pedal.

TVS Motor Company, Bajaj Auto and Hero MotoCorp, which together control 60% of the national two-wheeler market, are planning several EV launches, increasing EV production and increasing their market reach by adding more cities and regions. cities to the mailing list.

Chennai-based TVS Motor Company has taken the lead to become the leader among its peers. Given the strong demand for iQube electric scooters, the company plans to more than quadruple production to 25,000 per month from 8,000 per month currently.

Speaking to analysts, KN ​​Radhakrishnan, Director and CEO of TVS Motor Company, said: “We had the capacity, now we are accelerating. The application is very robust (for the iQube). We are confident to grow to 10,000 per month (in November)… and 25,000 per month by March. We have confirmed reservations of 25,000 for iQube.

The majority of the capital expenditure of Rs 750 crore earmarked by TVS for the current year will be injected into the electric vehicle sector. In fact, the company has stopped adding labor to its gas-powered two-wheeler business division and funneled resources into the electric vehicle vertical.

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“We are no longer adding people into the ICE (internal combustion engine). All of the additions have been for software development and technology for EV. There will be more launches, quarter after quarter in this space,” Radhakrishnan said.

Bajaj Auto, the first among legacy players to enter the EV space, will not only increase the Chetak’s production capacity, but increase the model’s market reach in many other cities and introduce a new EV every six months. to a way. Bajaj will increase monthly Chetak production to 6,000 from 4,000 and double market reach to 85 cities from 40.

Rakesh Sharma, chief executive of Bajaj Auto, told analysts after the Q2FY23 results: “Volumes are growing quite smartly and largely because we have better supply chain visibility. Over the next 18 months or so, you’ll see three or four intros attacking new segments, but it will be under the Chetak umbrella.

Hero MotoCorp, the nation’s largest two-wheeler maker, plans to start selling the Vida line of electric scooters in eight more cities before March from the current three. The company, which has the largest dealership footprint in the country, plans to have model offerings in a more affordable price range in the coming period from the current entry price of 1.45 lakh.

Ola Electric, which has no dealerships, became the biggest maker of electric two-wheelers in October, followed by Okinawa, Ampere Vehicles and Ather Energy. These startups control 65-75% of India’s electric two-wheeler market.

However, with improved component sourcing, market watchers believe that traditional players will not only have the upper hand when it comes to market reach, but also when it comes to brand recall.

Manish Raj Singhania, President of the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations, said: “The incumbents are well established in the network and the acceptance of their products will be much faster. In light of recent security incidents, consumers prefer to rely on an established brand for product safety and reliability. »

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