Chennai,  Gadgets

Test drive an electric scooter

Driving a car in the city, post-pandemic has become super stressful due to increased traffic and Chennai Corporation’s endless infra projects. I have been planning to buy a two-wheeler for some time for going to nearby places. I was clear that it would only be electric. #AtherEnergy was top in my list and I might opt for leasing the vehicle. Do you own an electric scooter, what’s been your experience?

About a decade and a half ago, in 2008 I bought the first generation of (Ultra brand) Electric scooters in India. It was based on the lead acid battery, unlike the current Lithium Ion batteries. Every two years, I had to buy a new battery pack at Rs 10,000, there was no other running cost (electricity charges were negligible), and no maintenance or service charges. The charge in that early electric scooter would drain during the day even if left unused. So before every trip, I had to remember to fully charge the scooter if I wanted to come back home with the scooter. Even then I enjoyed riding the scooter as it weighed very little, super easy to manoeuvre and park anywhere. During the #ChennaiFloods of 2015, the scooter was damaged beyond repair. I had a tough time trying to get rid of it – after months of searching, I paid a local mechanic to take it from my hands for Rs 1000 (I paid him that money).

Today, I took #ather450x for a test ride. I didn’t have a helmet in my house. I was feeling anxious I would need to wear the showroom helmet worn by countless others before me. Thankfully, the helpful salesman handed me a disposable hairnet along with the helmet, and I felt comfortable. Good attention to detail by Ather.

Ather has only one model in the vehicle. Ather 450 Plus and 450X are the exact same hardware down to the screws. The features vary based on the software that you have paid for. 450X has a super-pickup mode called Warp, which was awesome and unbelievable it was available in electric. It also comes with an extended two-year (for a total of five years) warranty for the battery. Almost the entire value of the scooter is for the battery, which I was told cost Rs 65,000 to buy. Onroad, Chennai 450x is priced at Rs 160,205.

Apart from buying the scooter, you need to subscribe to their connectivity (there is an eSIM in every scooter) and online updates and services called Connect Lite for Rs 1500/year; if you want ride statistics, geofencing (the vehicle can’t be driven outside the set location) and remote charge monitoring that will be Connect Pro for Rs 2400/year.

Finally, there is an annual service contract called Service Lite for Rs 2400/year that includes scheduled maintenance (there is not much in an electric scooter other than brake fluid, and belt), puncture assistance, consumables and once-per-year specific spares replacement for free.

With my past experience with an electric scooter, I didn’t want to buy one and get stuck with it long after new tech has come or with a dead battery and a bill of Rs 65K plus for a new one. I was told of their leasing option. With a deposit of Rs 50,000, this will require me to pay about Rs 3,300 per month for 36 months. At the end of which the vehicle I can buy the vehicle by paying about Rs 40,000 or it has to be returned and my deposit (50K) will be given back. I am considering going with this option, even though I would be paying Rs 118,800 and not owning anything. It will free me from worrying about what to do with a vehicle that has a dead battery. It will provide the pleasure of riding a new model scooter every three years!

Disclosure: I share my experiences and write reviews about products and services that I am considering buying for myself, or have bought for my usage and paid in full. There were no sponsorship or advertisement, or commissions of any sort involved in this post.

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