E-Power vs ICE - Who Wins The Commutes?

Electric Power vs ICE
Electric Power vs ICE

Electric Power vs ICE

As we enter 2022, the most important question we commuters will face is ‘whether to buy an electric or an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) scooter?’

With the spiralling fuel prices, congested roads and lack of parking infrastructure in our urban environment, switching to two-wheelers for commuting suddenly makes a lot of sense. Scooters are the ultimate answer for your commute needs. With their versatility, ease of use, low running costs, these machines are perfect for the entire family to use for regular errands.

The scooter market has been growing incessantly since the time the original Activa was launched by Honda. Since then, numerous options have been added to the segment in India. On the heels of this, there has also been an electric revolution. City streets are seeing ever increasing E-Scoots zipping around noiselessly.

The biggest dilemma facing prospective buyers, is whether to buy an electric or conventional bike. And here’s a quick guide to help you make that decision.

E-Power vs ICE - Who Wins The Commutes?


First up is the price of a new bike. For perspective we will take the example of the TVS iQube, a scooter from a renowned brand and the Honda Activa, still the most popular conventional scooter.

The TVS iQube comes with an ex-showroom price of Rs 142191/- in Pune. After taking into account FAME II subsidy and state subsidy in Maharashtra, this can be yours for Rs 93000 approximately. The ex-showroom price of the Activa 6G DLX on the other hand is Rs 72309/- in Pune. Add to it tax and insurance, your effective price is roughly 15000 less than your electric bike.

The question then arises, how long and how many kilometres of riding your electric bike will it take before you recover the additional Rs 15000/- of your initial cost? Which takes us to the next item which will affect your cost, the fuel cost and maintenance.

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E-Power vs ICE - Who Wins The Commutes?

Fuel Cost & Maintenance

This is where the e-bikes make the biggest difference over conventional scoots. A chasm which as got wider with spiralling fuel prices.

At Rs 100/- a litre of petrol and fuel efficiency of 50 kmpl, your per kilometre cost of fuel works out to Rs 2. Compare that to the cost per kilometre of an e-scooter, and your jaw will hit the floor. 25 to 30 paise is what you spend per kilometre if you live in urban areas, where per unit cost of electricity is around Rs 10/-. In rural and semi-urban parts of India, electricity is even cheaper.

E-Scooters smash ICE scooters out of the park in this comparison.

E-Power vs ICE - Who Wins The Commutes?


Good electric scooters these days have a range of 70-100 km. Which is decent for everyday urban commutes. As few people commute more than 50 km a day. If you are one of those few, then don’t go electric. Your battery powered machine will require to plug in every day, as you would do with your mobile.

ICE scooters on the other hand have a range of 240 km or so. Significantly more and unlikely that you will be able to commute so much in a day. And when you do, re-fuelling will be much faster than charging. Which brings us to the convenience of owning one.

E-Power vs ICE - Who Wins The Commutes?

Convenience & After Sales

When we are commuting, the only thing more important than cost, is convenience. You don’t want to waste time looking after things when harried by your daily grind.

ICE wins here. Besides filling petrol, which would take around 5 minutes every few days, there is not much you need to think about. Most people would get their scooters serviced once a year, with only engine oil and filters being replaced. This bike also employs technology which is a century old and there is not much that goes wrong.

With your E-Scooter, you need to ensure that it is charged. If you are running late to work and find the battery low, there is nothing much you can do. As charging takes anywhere between 1 to 2 hours. Technology is relatively new and being an early adopter of any new tech comes with its inherent risks. If you live in an apartment block, then charging your scoot in the parking lot might be a problem. Not insurmountable challenges, but something to take into account. Some bikes come equipped with replaceable batteries, but even that is not as convenient or fast as filling petrol at a bunk.

After Sales is another important criterion to keep in mind. Traditional scooter manufacturers already have a wide after sales and spares network in place. In smaller towns and remote areas also, you should be able to fix your bike with relative ease. This isn’t as yet the case with electric vehicles, which will take a few more years to catch up.

Flexibility of Use

Your electric bike is very much restricted to its urban environment. If you want or need to take your bike out of the city on occasion, you can’t. Or you will need to plan it out thoroughly in advance. With your ICE scooter, you can get out and hit the highway any time you choose.

E-Power vs ICE - Who Wins The Commutes?


What then should you buy? Buy electric if you enjoy new technology and gizmos. Buy electric if you will be more involved in the ownership. Buy if you live in a big metro city with decent E infrastructure. Buy if you want to reduce the sound and air pollution in your city.

Buy ICE if you want tried and tested technology. Buy ICE if it is the only vehicle in your household. Buy ICE if you depend on non-branded mechanic shops for your servicing needs.