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Ather Energy said they introduced the schemes to counter a likely dip in industry volume after the festive season and will end in a few months

The makers of electric two-wheelers are finding innovative ways to keep sales momentum after the festive season, and even adopting sales practices from traditional gasoline-run vehicle makers, to convince users to switch to electric vehicles - think exchange deals, short-term rental programs, and 48-month loans to break up monthly repayments into smaller amounts.

Bengaluru-based two-wheeler maker Ather Energy has announced an exchange program which will enable owners of petrol two-wheelers to trade in their scooters for an Ather, where the exchange value can be deducted from the down payment for the new electric scooter, therefore lowering upfront costs. Buyers also get 4,000 as an exchange bonus.

To be sure, this is a well-known practice in the internal combustion-engine universe, but one that buyers of EVs aren’t usually able to avail of institutionally.

Ather has announced the scheme, along with long-tenure financing options with low-down payments and free access to its fast-charging network Ather Grid until December 2023. There is a good reason behind the timing of these incentives.

“The rationale behind this timing is that after any festive month there is traditionally a dip in the automotive cycle. We’ve put up a new factory and increased production, at this point we are also expanding experience centres -- every month we are opening 10-12 experience centres. There is an operational side to converting underlying demand. We are making sure we are pushing the system to capacity on the manufacturing side, and now we are applying the same philosophy to the business side too - as we are opening more outlets, we are ensuring that industry numbers slowing down don’t slow down our momentum. Come January, we will likely yank the schemes off. The offers are conceptualized as a response to the industry dip", Ravneet Phokela, chief business officer, Ather Energy, told Mint.

The brand hasn’t changed the pricing of the Ather 450X as the scooter is positioned as a premium product, and discounts usually come with a negative connotation for products in this category, he noted.

However, vehicle registration data on the company’s VAHAN dashboard showed that registrations of electric two-wheelers in November in fact grew at a modest 1% compared to October to over 76,000 units. Industry experts largely attribute the slight uptick to a spillover from the festive month, as vehicles sold during the auspicious season continue to get registered until a few days later. However, registrations of internal combustion-engine two-wheelers increased 8% during the same period. Penetration of electric two-wheelers in the larger market, therefore, dipped to 4.1% versus 4.5% in October.

Try before you buy

Two-wheeler battery swapping player, Bounce has started a rental scheme for customers, where prospective buyers can experience the product, Bounce Infinity, for a short term ranging from a few weeks to a few months, before they make a decision to purchase the scooter. Battery-as-a-service or BaaS is a relatively new concept in India, and popularizing it via rentals is a way to incentivize customers to get familiar with the product and service.

Hero MotoCorp announced a buy-back scheme during the launch of its Vida scooter in October, which means buyers can sell their scooter back to the brand at an assured value of 70% within the first three years of purchase. Residual value or an EVs value in the second-hand market is usually unknown for value-oriented prospective buyers as the vehicles are equipped with technologies which haven’t been tested or used in the domestic market for a long period of time necessary for the emergence of a secondary market.

Moreover, electric two-wheeler makers aren’t alone in the scheme-fest: Luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz on Friday also announced free one-year access for customers to the brand’s ultra-fast charging infrastructure in the country, as well as residual value 64% residual value assurance with an 8-year battery warranty at the launch of its electric SUV EQB, to sweeten the deal for potential buyers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alisha Sachdev

Alisha Sachdev is an assistant editor with Mint based in Delhi. She reports on the auto and mobility sector, with a special focus on emerging clean mobility technologies. She also focusses on developing multimedia properties for Mint and currently hosts the 'In A Minute' series and the Mint Primer podcast. Previously, she has worked with CNBC-TV18 and NDTV.
Catch all the Auto News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
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