The Indian two-wheeler industry is witnessing a major growth spurt in the recent years. Thanks to the internet era, the exposure towards motorcycling for pleasure has increased considerably. Not only this, the markets seem to be favourable too - especially for big bike makers as there’s no dearth of cash-strapped customers. Electric two-wheelers also seem to be coming into the limelight in the recent years as the country plans to go all-electric by 2030. Though we’ve witnessed the culmination of many developments that have taken place over the years, there were quite some that caught us completely unaware. Here’s a list of the most interesting ones:
Twenty Two Motors & Kymco Joint Venture:
At the 2018 Auto Expo, Twenty Two Motors, an Indian startup launched its first product, the Flow. It got a list of segment-first features like smartphone interface, cloud connectivity and even kinetic energy recovery system! Eight months later, they made headlines again with a major announcement - its partnership with Taiwanese brand Kymco. Kymco is well-known for making scooters and premium scooters in the south-east Asian market. It was surprising for a startup to score a deal with such a big brand like Kymco. However, the partnership is quite promising as for starters, Twenty Two Motor’s already capable scooter is enhanced by Kymco’s iONEX battery technology. It essentially features swappable lithium ion battery to facilitate better charging.
It doesn’t stop with that, as the joint venture will help Kymco’s electric sub brands iONEX and iONEX Commercial to enter the country too. The brands are currently working on electrifying Delhi first, with an aim to have a charging point every kilometre. This is particularly important as the country’s charging infrastructure is still fledgling and needs to evolve considerably to electric vehicles to actually replace their petrol powered counterpart. It’s a win-win arrangement as Twenty Two Motors can share its insights about the Indian market while Kymco has the monetary power and the technology to make dreams come true. We caught up with Kymco’s Chairman, Allen Ko and here’s the detailed interview about the partnership
Ather doing a Tesla in the Indian electric two-wheeler space:
Most of us petrolheads have a sort of racist attitude towards electric vehicles. If it doesn’t have the power of controlled chemical explosions and a glorious aural note of the said explosions, it’s usually a no-no for us. The Indian electric two-wheeler segment was stagnant too, as most of the electric scooters were quite slow, came with heavy batteries and had a range that’ll serve only your grocery shopping trip. However, Ather Energy changed everything. It not only redefined the electric scooter, but also changed our perception of electric vehicles. We went gaga over it after riding its debut product, the Ather 450.
For starters, the scooter manages to have a true speed of 80kmph, and accelerates to 40kmph from standstill faster than most of the 110cc petrol-powered scooters. It also features a brilliantly engineered chassis and offers zero lateral offset, with a 51/49 front/rear weight ratio. Since there’s no engine, it’s incredibly practical too, thanks to the ginormous underseat storage of 26 litres. Plus you also get a 7-inch touchscreen console that interfaces with a host of other features like navigation, over-the-air-updates, smartphone integration and the likes. These dynamic features far outweigh its relatively mediocre range of around 60-75km per charge, and the hefty price tag of Rs 1.24 lakh (on-road Bengaluru). However, for this price, you get an insanely well-designed and well-thought electric scooter.
KTM 125 Duke:
KTM is well-known in the country for its competitively priced, performance-packed machines. For years it operated in the 200cc and above category, and the formula worked as their products were far superior to anything else in the respective segments at those price points. The 125cc segment on the other hand is predominantly filled with commuters. KTM already used to make the 125 Duke in India, but it was meant for export markets. However, now the Austrian brand has actually launched the 125 Duke in the country, making it the only performance-oriented motorcycle in its class!
While initially we were skeptical about the brand’s move, it started to make sense considering the fact that the price of the 125 Duke (Rs 1.18 lakh, ex-showroom), is almost the same as the 200 Duke’s pricing when it was launched back in 2012. They’ve essentially retained the entry price point, at the cost of displacement. Moreover, KTM also gets to play in the segment above 125cc as the bike’s output figures are in the 160cc territory.
Royal Enfield 650 Twins refinement:
Royal Enfield doesn’t just sell a motorcycle, they sell customers an experience of pure motorcycling. Sure their products may not be as powerful, nor technologically superior, nor are they known for refinement. However, these ‘niggles’ fade as you’re riding in a convoy of like-minded individuals thundering down on their thumpers. The formula had its flaws but it worked for the brand.
But Royal Enfield realised they needed to step up their game if they wanted to dominate other markets in the world. With the 650 Twins, they’ve done exactly that, and some more! These bikes have a shockingly butter-smooth engine, loads of power and highway cruising ability. The engine was so vibe-free that it created a new internet fad, “Chai cup challenge”. It was unlike any other Royal Enfield, and was even better than the Himalayan’s counterbalanced 411cc motor. The all-new powerplant simply proved that Royal Enfield is capable of producing well-engineered, engaging machines. Even the build quality is top-notch. Rounding off the whole package was the impossibly-competitive pricing, starting at just Rs 2.5 lakh (ex-showroom)! They’ve even undercut the (then most VFM bike) KTM 390 Duke, let alone other rivals in the 650cc segment. With such pricing and the kind of riding experience the 650 Twins offer, Royal Enfield truly has given the big-bike experience to the masses.
Harley-Davidson’s announcement for the future:
For as long as we remember, Harley-Davidson is a brand that’s known to largely stick with the cruiser genre. However, dwindling worldwide sales amidst less-expensive, more-sophisticated alternatives made the American brand rethink its strategy. We were under the impression that it was time for yet another similar-looking range of cruisers, but we were in for a pleasant surprise. The brand went all-out, announcing a fierce onslaught of numerous products in diverse segments, scheduled to be launched over the next couple of years. This includes a butch-looking ADV, a naked motorcycle range built on a brand-new platform, and the most interesting of them all - a 250-500cc platform for the Asian market.
Called the Pan America, the adventure tourer is Harley’s first-of-its-kind. This and the naked bike range will help the brand gain inroads to different markets where cruisers aren’t the driving force in terms of sales. The newly-developed platform is meant to be flexible, and can support motorcycles with different engine capacities to suit different market needs. Additionally, the brand also unveiled the production version of Livewire - a step in the right direction for the future. Though the details of the new small-capacity platform for Asian market are still under wraps, we couldn’t help but analyse which brand has the potential to come into such an arrangement with the American giant.
All these developments have certainly made 2018 a hot-and-happening year. More importantly, they also give us a glimpse of what’s to come in the forthcoming year, and boy, do we look forward to it!