New Delhi: While luxury sedans, small cars and hybrid vehicles have hogged the limelight at the Auto Expo, it was also the platform for the launch of an electric scooter designed in India specially for the disabled.
BSA Motors, a recently formed division of the Chennai-based Tube Investments of India Ltd, promoted by the Murugappa Group, unveiled its four-wheel scooter, Roamer Able, on Thursday.
“After extensive market research, we saw that there is a burning need to come out with a scooter which would help the mobility of the physically challenged,” said K.B. Srinivasan, vice-president, BSA Motors, which only makes electric scooters. “So long, people have been buying scooters from the market and modifying them, but those vehicles are not very safe.”
Thoughtful: Electric scooter Roamer Able on display at Auto Expo 2010. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
The Roamer Able has thoughtful touches such as a holder for crutches and a rear break lock so that the scooter does not roll back on a slope. The rider can also engage reverse with a flick of a switch.
“We have been developing the technology for this vehicle since the last eight months along with a Japanese design consultancy firm, which has advised us on the design of the scooter,” said Srinivasan.
The scooter is priced at Rs35,300 before taxes and other charges in Delhi, but the state government has extended BSA Motors a subsidy so it can sell the scooters at a 30% discount. The company is talking with other states as well for similar subsidies.
BSA Motors, formed in July 2008, is targeting a 20% share of the electric scooters market, currently pegged at Rs1.1 lakh, by the end of fiscal 2011. The company sells around 1,500 scooters a month and expects to end 2010-11 at around 15,000 units.
Hero Electric Ltd, a subsidiary of the Hero Group, is the largest firm in India’s highly disorganized electric scooters market, which has around 80 firms importing containers of Chinese electric scooters and selling them locally. BSA Motors also faces competition from Electrotherm India Ltd, which sells its electric two-wheelers under the Yobykes brand.
There were the good old bicycles on display as well, although some had a Rs3 lakh price tag.
A range of cross-country, mountaineering and racing bicycles were introduced in India around six months back by BSA Motors, which has secured exclusive rights for marketing bicycle brands such as Ducati, Cannondale, Bianchi and Schwinn in the country.
Abhishek P. Sareen, manager, performance bikes division, BSA Motors, says the company sells around 100 of these imported bicycles every month. “Ninety per cent of the sales have come from bikes ranging between Rs20,000 and Rs50,000 and we are expecting to sell around 7,000 bicycles this fiscal,” said Sareen.
Samar Srivastava contributed to the story.