With the cost of petrol showing little signs of depreciating below Rs 100 per litre, it is probably time to consider converting your petrol scooter to electric. The process will only take four hours thanks to Bengaluru-based Zuink Retrofit.
This is a subsidiary of Bounce, which is a dockeless scooter sharing company.
“This becomes the lowest entry price point for anyone to own an EV. For example, say you own a 7-year-old Honda Activa scooter and want to make a transition to electric. If you buy a new EV two-wheeler off the market, it would cost you between Rs 70,000 to more than Rs 1 lakh. With us, you can convert it to an EV for just Rs 26,999 or an EMI of Rs 899 per month with no upfront costs,” says Sachin Shenoy, Vice President of Zuink Retrofit, speaking to The Better India.
Consumers in Bengaluru can reserve one of their conversion kits today for Rs 499, and Zuink Retrofit will give them a date and slot in December when the installation process begins. By June 2022, the venture is expected to have a presence in major cities which have a large density of IC-engine scooters like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Why Should You Convert to Electric?
“When you convert your petrol scooter to electric, your monthly fuel costs come down by more than 50%. As per our assessment, consumers spend about Rs 3-3.50 per km on a petrol scooter. If you convert to electric, it comes down to about Rs 1.50 per km,” claims Sachin.
Going further, the older the petrol scooter, the greater the emissions given the nature of IC-engines. If you own a Honda Activa or a TVS Scooty Zest, which is about five or six years old, it may make more sense to convert that into an EV. Your emissions will then come down to zero. Besides saving on fuel, you are protecting the planet from further air pollution. Also, Sachin claims that the chassis of IC-engine variants are much sturdier than the EVs found in the market. As a result, in the conversion process, the sturdier chassis has been retained.
Thus far, Zuink Retrofit has started converting about four models of IC-engine scooters, which include the TVS Scooty Zest, Honda Activa 3G, 4G and 5G since these have been among the top selling models for the past decade. Going further, they will build electric conversion kits for more models like the Suzuki Access, Hero Pleasure and the likes.
The Process of Conversion
During the conversion process, the petrol scooter’s engine, fuel tank and silencer are removed, and they install an electric powertrain with a rear wheel mounted hub motor. There is a wiring harness that is also deployed, besides some other modifications, including the installation of a 2 kWh lithium-ion battery on their converted electric scooters.
“From a consumer point of view, it’s like dropping your scooter at an authorised service centre for servicing. You leave it in the morning and by afternoon you can collect it. The whole conversion kit costs you about Rs 26,999, and we will have some exciting launch offers and discounts for the first batch of customers. We also have an attractive EMI payment programme where you pay Rs 899 a month instead of paying the entire Rs 26,999. From a savings point of you, if you’re a consumer riding 25-30 km a day, after deducting the EMI, you will still save a substantial sum in hand that would have otherwise been spent on petrol,” says Sachin.
So far, the startup has converted about 200+ IC-engine scooters to electric in the past year and a half, which have been already deployed in Bounce’s dockless fleet.
“These retrofit scooters are really robust and tested thoroughly. These vehicles have changed hands many times with different riding styles, and the vehicle continues to perform at optimal levels. Not many electric mobility ventures have done this kind of rigorous performance testing. Once we sell these conversion kits to the public, the EVs they ride won’t feel very different from their IC-engine counterparts. With most EV two-wheelers straight out of the factory in India, there is sometimes a 1 second lag between braking and acceleration while taking a sharp turn. They don’t cut as well as IC-engine scooters, but this is not the case with the ones we have converted. Our vehicles cut as well, if not better, than IC-engine scooters,” he claims.
Scooters converted by them offer a top speed of 60 kmph, and battery range on a single charge of about 55 km, although their tests have produced results up to 80 km in ideal driving conditions. Standard EV two-wheelers in the market offer much lower speeds and battery range as compared to the one here, and cost more than double of what the Bengaluru-based startup offers.
All components in the Retrofit Kit (conversion kit) are designed, developed, manufactured and assembled in India, claims Sachin. These kits are being manufactured by their contractors under close supervision of the startup.
Battery Swapping Technology
These converted electric scooters will operate on a battery swapping network that Zuink Retrofit has built. In Bengaluru alone, they have about 150+ battery swapping stations that are strategically located. But as December approaches, they plan on adding more in the city with the objective of having one swapping station for every kilometre in the city.
“To give you some context, Bengaluru has about 700 petrol pumps. We have conducted about 3 lakh battery swaps so far over the past 1.5 years. With this system, you don’t have to own the battery, take it home, worry about maintenance and spend money on electricity. You just rent it from us for Rs 80 per swap, ride for about 55 km, and once you run out of range swap it at the nearest station. Each battery swap takes less than 3 minutes to complete. With EV batteries, every 1,200-1,300 charge cycles, you have to replace them because they become obsolete. If you own a battery, there will be a replacement cost to bear every three years or so which most of the EV makers in India do not talk about. There are no such additional capex costs for the consumer with our battery swapping model,” claims Sachin.
Once opened to the public, they will also take care of the registration process, which includes getting a fresh registration certificate (RC) and a new green and white number plate mandated for electric vehicles.
“The entire process takes about 15 to 20 working days, and we will take care of it via our authorized franchises. This is paid for in the registration fee, which goes to the local regional transport office (RTO). Our objective is to minimise any sort of hassle for consumers so that they can convert their vehicles without a single hiccup,” he concludes.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)