Delhi engineer Abhishek Dwivedi took a 400 km trip to Leh on his e-scooter to show that electric vehicles can be as efficient as regular ones, and that you need not compromise due to range anxiety.
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At a time when India is witnessing an ‘EV revolution,’ Delhi-based Abhishek Dwivedi has taken up the ambition to link e-scooters with the idea of adventure.
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A mechanical engineer and alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Abhishek says that electric vehicles always intrigued him. But the notion that people held, of having to “compromise” when it came to owning electric vehicles, irked him.
“I was tired of hearing people say that once you buy an electric scooter, you have to compromise on quality and efficiency. I wanted to prove that EVs can be as exciting as any adventure bike,” he tells The Better India.
Abhishek feels that electric vehicles are a paradigm shift, especially when it comes to the problem of vehicular pollution. “EVs offer a wide range of solutions, but the change will have to be behavioural,” he said.
Abhishek says he has driven his bike to almost every district in India. “Apart from Andaman & Nicobar and the Lakshadweep Islands, I have visited every corner of the country since I started travelling 14 years ago,” he says.
“I had driven on the Manali-Leh highway a number of times, but wanted to try something different.” So he decided to take the same trip, with an electric scooter this time.
On July 7, he left his Manali office on an unregistered e-scooter with a top speed of 25 kmps (as per government regulations) and made his way to Khardungla Pass, located at a whopping altitude of 17,982 feet. The trip, which would have taken less than 24 hours on a regular bike, lasted three days. Accompanied by his friends in a car, Abhishek drove for over eight hours every day, passing through cold terrains, shallow rivers, and low-oxygen areas.
“Range anxiety is a common thing when it comes to buying EVs, along with concerns about the machine. People wonder if it would drive in cold regions and survive the terrain with its plastic body. But over three days on the road, the e-scooter didn’t betray me even once,” he says. Abhishek rode a vehicle that was part of their fleet at EVeez, an e-scooter startup founded by him and Gaurav Rathore.
Abhishek also carried an extra battery with him. “We charged the scooter’s batteries with generators given to us by campsite residents or locals. I was able to ride the scooter quite well throughout the journey.” While Eveez scooters can be charged at any electric vehicle charging station, Abhishek had to carry a battery due to the absence of charging stations in the Himalayas.
After climbing to the top of Khardungla Pass, Abhishek now wishes to ascend another hill. With his business partner Gaurav, he wishes to make EVs accessible to all of India. “Electric vehicles are often expensive, which stops many in lower-middle income households from buying them. We want to act as enablers,” he said.
Their startup EVeez has now partnered with Zomato, Swiggy, Uber, Shadowfax, and many other companies to “help make the gig economy greener”. They supply electric vehicles to delivery partners and business agents across Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata on a monthly subscription-based model.
“We even provide e-bikes to riders who don’t have a driving licence. These are unregistered electric vehicles with a top speed of 25 kmps and are easy to drive. This can help them avoid loans and EMIs,” Abhishek added.
The monthly subscription starts from Rs 110, and any rider can get the vehicle after depositing a one-time security fee of Rs 1,100. The company also provides on-the-spot repair if the vehicle breaks down. Abhishek and his team also work with small businesses in Delhi and have set many of them up with electric vehicles.
“We also work with women from low-income families who don’t have a driving licence or are unable to avail loans to buy a vehicle. Women riders, who often work as medicine suppliers for online apps, can take a vehicle from us on the basis of an Aadhar card,” Abhishek adds.
Both Abhishek and Gaurav have two goals for their company — customer delight and sustainability. Abhishek, who has also worked with the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) in the past, says that sustainability lies at the heart of everything he does. “Vehicle efficiency also means resource efficiency for us. The ideas of environment friendliness and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a part of our business philosophy,” he says.
Edited by Divya Sethu