Future of electric mobility is on two wheels - not only because of falling costs but also to beat the worsening traffic
Until recently, electric motorcycles and scooters received far less global attention than electric cars. That’s beginning to change, especially in India, where two-wheelers — predominantly motorcycles — account for 76% of vehicles on the roads and a whopping 30% of the country’s pollution. In Southeast Asia’s biggest economies, the number of households that own two-wheelers exceeds 80%. Cleaning up the region’s air means reducing emissions from two-wheelers.
Electric cars, even cheap ones, won’t solve the problem. Cost is the first and tallest barrier. In India, a new, entry-level commuter motorcycle can cost less than $500 (and, on the secondhand market, far less). Traffic is the next burden. In the mega-cities of emerging Asia, jams are notoriously bad and getting worse. In Mumbai, the average speed of city buses has declined from 16km/h to 9km/h over the last decade. Little wonder that even commuters who can afford a car often look to bikes and scooters to get around.
The good news is that Asia’s emerging middle class seems open to the idea of e-scooters if the price is right and charging is convenient. In China, low-speed electric bicycles powered by bulky lead-acid batteries have replaced many traditional motorcycles and scooters, especially given more stringent emissions rules. They’re cheap, and — unlike electric cars — the batteries can be charged at home or at the office. Today there are 200 million them, with 30 million more added every year.
Traditionally, the costs of lithium-ion batteries have made vehicles powered by them too expensive for emerging markets. But prices are falling precipitously: Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts they’ll decline 73% by 2030. While that may still not be enough to make electric cars broadly affordable, it’s a good bet that two-wheelers will be.
|Future of electric mobility is on two wheels - TechCentral