Hero MotoCorp had a surprise up its sleeve for viewers during its 10th anniversary celebrations – a brief glimpse of its first electric scooter. That Hero has been working on an e-scooter is a bit of an open secret, but almost no one expected to see something resembling a finished product this soon. While electric scooters have only accounted for a fraction of overall two-wheeler sales in the country so far, things are changing rather quickly, and Hero’s entry will only accelerate EV adoption in the two-wheeler market. Details are light on the ground at this time, but here are five important things you need to know about the Hero MotoCorp electric scooter.
It is not a rebranded Gogoro
Hero MotoCorp made news earlier this year when it announced a tie-up with Taiwanese electric scooter manufacturer Gogoro, which has been able to execute a battery-swap system for its customers with a great degree of success on home turf. However, this partnership was only announced in April 2021, and any product to emerge from this tie-up would require a greater amount of time to reach production. A quick look through Gogoro’s line-up of scooters confirms Hero’s maiden e-scooter has nothing in common with any existing Gogoro model.
Developed fully in-house
During the 10th anniversary celebrations, Hero MotoCorp MD Pawan Munjal confirmed the electric scooter shown is indeed a brand-new, new-from-the-ground-up offering, stating it was developed at the Hero MotoCorp CIT in Rajasthan, with inputs from engineers at the Hero Tech Centre, in Germany.
Referring to the scooter, Munjal said, “This is what my team of engineers, technologists and I have been working on, at our Global Centre of Innovation and Technology, along with all our engineers at the Hero Tech Centre in Munich, Germany.”
Expected to be a high-speed e-scooter
Munjal refrained from sharing any specifics about the e-scooter, but one thing’s clear – Hero MotoCorp’s electric scooter will not operate in either the low-speed (limited to 25 kph) or mid-speed (limited to 45 kph) segments, and will instead have the firepower to match other high-speed scooters from Ather Energy, TVS, Bajaj, Okinawa, and soon, Ola Electric as well. Munjal referred to the e-scooter as a “bolt of lightning” in his address, and that makes it amply clear the Hero MotoCorp electric scooter will have the acceleration to at least match its rivals, if not outrun them.
Likely to have a fixed charging system
While Hero’s tie-up with Gogoro means it will look at battery swapping as a serious alternative, Hero MotoCorp will almost certainly take the fixed charging route with its first electric scooter, as a fixed charging network currently exists in India, and is growing at a rapid pace. Battery swapping, on the other hand, is yet to gather steam, and Hero will only go down that path with products that result from its Gogoro partnership. Hero has previously revealed its R&D teams have been working to develop products based on fixed charging system.
“Given the entire appetite and the infrastructure that exists, it is complementary that our own programme works on fixed charging and then with Gogoro which will work on swapping, that allows us to play in both the spaces,” Hero MotoCorp CFO Niranjan Gupta had said during an analyst call earlier this year.
It will face stiff competition at launch
A closer look at Hero MotoCorp’s electric scooter confirms it has almost nothing in common with any present Hero petrol scooter, with a fairly advanced design language, and rides on what appears to be a 12-inch front wheel and a 10-inch rear wheel. It has a dual-tone colour scheme, a split seat with an exposed seat frame, a telescopic fork with a rear monoshock and a single-sided swing arm which reveals the five-spoke alloy wheel completely. It’s also expected to pack in all-LED lighting, disc brakes and a number of connectivity features.
However, Hero MotoCorp will need to make its first electric scooter stand out, as by the time it arrives in the coming months, there will be intense competition in the segment. TVS is rolling out the iQube electric scooter in more cities with Bajaj following suit with the reborn Chetak. Ather Energy continues to ramp up its operations and Ola Electric is aiming to make a splash with the launch of its Series S e-scooter on 15 August. And then there are newer players including Bengaluru-based start-up Simple Energy, who are looking to one-up legacy brands in the race to grab a chunk of the fast-evolving electric scooter market.