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E-bikes are new on the track, but they have yet to get popular in Goa due to high cost, finds out Serilda Coutinho

E-bikes peddle hard to make sales

Recently Arcis Clean energy, a Goan startup, launched electric bikes in association with the GTDC, as a way to boost sustainable transport for the tourism industry. The e-bike branded as B: Live for the tours around Panjim city are sourced through Lightspeed, an Ahmedabad based company, that builds electric mobility solutions.

“We took a few quotations from local dealers before going ahead and investing in a company that builds e-bikes outside the state, to benefit from servicing and pricing for bulk orders” says Siddharth Nagarsekar, general manager, operations, Arcis Clean Energy, Campal.

According to Nagarsekar, the facility of eco-friendly mode of transport as an attempt to tackle the traffic snarls has received an encouraging response from tourists who are fitness conscious and want to explore the state on wheels. “We receive bookings from 15- 20 tourists groups on a daily basis and even locals want to know more about this technology as we have got about 8-10 inquires for sales since we launched e-bikes in November ” explains Nagarsekar.

Meanwhile ground level check reveals that, e-bikes have yet to catch on in the state. About hand full of dealers retailing electric bicycles have registered poor sales owing to lack of awareness of the technology and exorbitant rates that makes it a pricy deal for buyers.

According to dealers, tour operators, youngsters without driver’s license and the elderly who need assistance in peddling long distances are the likely candidates to make a switch to the electric technology. “We receive fewer inquires for e-bikes when compared to the manual ones as the service aspect has not geared up in the state” explains Vinay Raikar, MG Road, a dealer and wholesaler in bicycles, tricycles and spare parts.

Bicycle dealer Purushottam D. Shirodkar, MG Road, who used to retail electric cycles reveals that he had to discontinue the sales due to poor response but the introduction of new features has now improved the prospects of e-bikes.  “The terrains in Goa are not suitable for a fully motorised bicycle so we could not make sales. But with the use of new technology in these bikes, cyclists now have an option to switch between manual and motor powered cycling using the throttle and paddle assist features available” says Shirodkar.

Electronic cycles come fitted with a battery powered motor that can fuel the bike to a cover a distance of up to 50km in a single charge. Some of the features offered are electronic display of the battery, GPS tracker, heart rate detection, and distance covered among others. According to retailers the cycle is capable of delivering a speed of 25km/hr, locked as the permissible riding speed for these bikes on Indian roads.

The price ranges between Rs 29,000 to Rs 55,000 due to the use of imported electronics. The the ease of riding the bikes comes with a price difference of about Rs 24000 when compared to a manual cycle. “Most of the electronic bicycles are available in brands that customers have never heard of before that makes it difficult for customers to rely on the quality of the product that they are investing into,” points out Raikar who stocks about two-three e-bikes at his store.

While Akshay Hede, owner, Hede cycles, Margao who retails e-cycles only on order basis to avoid making a loss says ,“servicing the motor and replacing the battery is costly that discourages buyers from spending on them and so we prefer not to stock up on these bikes in our store.”  He explains that, fitness conscious buyers shy away from e-bikes because of the easy peddle that it offers.

Jozico Cabral, owner of four bicycles outlets and a registered dealer for Hero cycles in the state says, “Earlier only Chinese brands were available in the market but now with Indian players coming into the picture the price has dropped down.”

Expecting a brighter future for e-bikes sales with the growing   awareness among locals, Raikar points out that, there is a scope to boost the sales as these cycles serve as commuting mode of transport quite efficiently.

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