Specs to Consider While Buying an Electric Two-wheeler

India’s electric 2 wheeler market is on the move with the availability of more than a dozen electric scooters and motorcycle options. These vehicles are truly next-gen – with their environment-friendly footprint and total cost of ownership at par with internal combustion engine powered two-wheelers.

With rising general awareness, cut in GST rate, FAME 2 subsidy leading to slashed prices of select 2 wheelers (Ather, Okinawa, Ampere, Hero electric and Jitendra Electric Vehicles) and many more exciting new models of electric scooter and motorcycles launching this year – the penetration of electric 2Ws is expected to grow rapidly in coming years. Niti Aayog wants to set a deadline for 2025 for 100% electrification of India’s 2Ws under 150-cc engines, that makes up to 90 per cent of the total two-wheeler market in India. Buyers’ growing interest in the electric two-wheeler segment was recently evident when Revolt had to stop bookings for the first two months within 4 days of opening due to overwhelming response.

If you are looking to buy an electric two-wheeler, please read through this post to understand the EV specific terminology. For electric car related specifications, read Specs to Consider While Buying an Electric Car.

Performance Related

1. Range – The maximum distance an electric 2 wheeler can go on a full charge.  Driving range amongst different models and brands varies between 60 km – 150 km. Also, many of the electric motorcycles offer different modes (like sport mode, eco mode etc) and the range of the 2W varies depending on the mode used by the rider.

2. Acceleration – The time taken by the 2W to achieve the indicated speed from start. Electric motors produce instant torque and provide super-quick acceleration to the vehicle, e.g. Ather 450 claims a pickup of 0-40 mph in 3.9 seconds, that is way faster than 2Ws running on internal combustion engines.

3. Regenerative Braking – Regenerative Braking or ‘Regen’ is an energy recovery mechanism that converts a part of the kinetic energy of the vehicle into electricity at the time of braking. This electricity is stored by the battery and used for propulsion, increasing the efficiency of the 2 wheeler. Look out whether it is included in the feature set.

Battery Related

1. Type of Battery – The new standard of battery chemistry among the latest electric 2 wheelers is Lithium-Ion. Earlier, lead-acid batteries were commonplace but they are now being replaced by more efficient Li-ion batteries. The Indian government has also made a push towards removing lead-acid battery-powered electric two wheelers from the mix by excluding those from FAME 2 incentives launched in Apr 2019. Some brands like Evolet and Ampere are launching electric scooters in both variants – with Li-ion battery and with Lead-acid battery. Lead-Acid battery variants of a model are 15-25% cheaper than the Li-ion variants. Typically, a Li-ion battery lasts around 5 years, while a Lead acid battery needs replacement in less than 2 years. 

2. Capacity – Battery capacity gives a measure of the charge it can store and is represented in some spec sheets in Ah (ampere-hours), while others provide a kWh (kilowatt-hours) rating. To compare the values provided in different units – simply convert Ah into kWh by multiplying the Ah figure with Nominal Voltage provided in the specifications and divide the result by 1000. A higher battery capacity indicates a better driving range per charge.

3. Depth of Discharge (DoD) – Some automakers provide a DoD percentage that indicates the fraction of stored energy you can use. e.g. a DoD of 80% means your 2W can use only up to 80% of battery capacity. With Li-ion batteries,  a DoD up to 100% can be expected, i.e. full energy stored in the battery can be withdrawn to run the 2W. Some specification sheets provide usable capacity and installed capacity and ratio of the two figures indicate the DoD.

4. Battery Life – This specification represents the number of complete charge/discharge cycles that the battery can go through before that its storage capacity falls under 80% of the original. It helps you estimate that depending on your usage, how long before you will need to get your battery pack replaced and compare the same with battery warranty provided by the manufacturer. Tork T6X claims 1,000 cycles of battery life.

5. Battery Warranty – Automakers provide additional warranty on the battery pack, that is the most expensive component of an EV. Battery warranties are described in terms of the amount of time and distance driven. For example, ‘Emflux One’ (to be launched in December 2019) offers a battery warranty of 5 years / 100,000 km with a percentage guarantee of 80%. This means if its full charge battery capacity ever drops below 80% of the original before five years of ownership or 100,000 km (whichever comes first), you can get your EV battery replaced and serviced for free. The warranty ensures that if your original 2W’s range is 100 km, you will get a minimum range of 80 km till 5 years or 100,000 km of driving.

Charging Related 

1. Charger Rating – Check the charger rating to know the Amp and Voltage requirements so that you can accordingly ensure an appropriate socket (like 6 Amp or 15 Amp ) at a convenient point at your home/office.

2. Charging Time – This gives a measure of time taken to charge a fully discharged battery pack to a specified percentage. The range may vary greatly among different brands of electric two-wheelers. Also, you need to check whether the EV allows ‘Fast Charging’ – that charges a fully drained battery up to 80% in a span of 30-40 minutes and if the company provides any proprietary charging equipment for the same.

3. Charging options – Look out for other charging options your 2W provides. Does it allow portable charging, i.e. the ability to take the battery out and charge it at a convenient place? Does the company facilitate battery swapping? Answers to these questions will help you determine the overall ease of charging once you own the vehicle.

4. Charger Warranty – Some manufacturers provide a separate warranty for battery charger and will repair/replace the same if it malfunctions in the warranty period. RV 400 provides 2 years warranty for the battery charger.

Motor Related 

1. Type of Motor – Brushless DC (BLDC) motors and 3 Phase AC Induction motors are commonly used in electric 2 wheelers. According to experts, there is no clear winner as both have their own set of advantages. BLDC motors are maintenance-free, provide high starting torque and efficiency of around 95-98%. Induction motors can be designed up to efficiency of 92-95%, are cheaper and can withstand rugged environmental conditions better. Ultimately, the performance of the 2W is determined by overall component stack and not just the kind of motor. 

2. Peak power / Continuous power – Peak power of the electric motor indicates the amount of maximum mechanical output it can deliver. Output mechanical energy is used to drive the vehicle can be measured in kW (kilowatts). Many brands also provide a continuous power rating that represents the amount of power motor can steadily produce. Top speed of the vehicle depends on its power rating.

3. Torque – Torque can be understood as a twisting force that creates the rotary motion and gives an indication of pick-up or acceleration offered by the 2W. It is measured in Nm (Newton meters) @ rpm. More torque on less rpm signifies better pick up.

Other Features

1. Ingress Protection (IP) ratings – IP ratings of electrical enclosures of motor, controller and battery define the levels of sealing effectiveness against dust and moisture. A higher IP rating means your 2W components have better protection from foreign bodies. 

– IP 65 – Dust Tight and protected against water projected from a nozzle

– IP 66 – Dust Tight and protected against heavy seas or powerful jets of water

– IP 67 – Dust Tight and protected against immersion for 30 minutes at depths 150mm – 1000mm

– IP 68 – Dust Tight and protected against complete, continuous submersion in water.

2. Mobile App Support – Check whether the manufacturer offers a mobile app that you can use to monitor the performance parameters, riding patterns, trip information and remaining charge % etc. Many electric two-wheelers are IoT enabled and offer advanced features such as geo-fencing. The app can be handy when trying to locate the nearest charging or battery swapping centres.

3. License and Registration Requirement – Some of the two-wheelers do not require a driving license based on their low top speed and motor power. (for instance Evolet Polo Pony  and Ampere V48 with a top speed of 25 km/h, motor output 250 watts). Make sure to enquire about registration and license requirement from the dealer before the purchase.

Happy Two eWheeling! Please let us know in comments which one you are going for.

Sample specification sheets – Tork T6X, Ampere V48, Ather 450 and 340, Emflux One

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