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Review of the disadvantages of electric scooters and bikes

Review of the disadvantages of electric scooters and bikes

1. Environment:
Given that most of the electricity in India is obtained from the firing of coal, e-bikes are not really friendly to the environment. They merely shift the location of the pollution from the city to the source of electricity generation. This is not necessarily bad, given that high levels of city pollution are medically damaging to the residents of the city. However, it is bad for the planet, as a whole.

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Also bad for the planet is that the batteries require to be replaced frequently, and batteries cannot be completely recycled. There is substantial battery waste for which disposal will be a large problem should a major shift occur to the use of e-vehicles. This concern applies to all batteries, including lithium ion batteries.

2. Weight:
The weight of the batteries makes the bike heavy; so, you may not be able to carry heavy pillion riders (unless you hyperinflate your rear wheel tyres), and you will need to check the tyre pressure regularly, perhaps every 10 days.

3. Cost and concessions:
E-bikes are generally more expensive than petrol bikes. Note that accessories for e-bikes increase the cost; be aware of all these hidden charges. Also note that some states in India offer concessions in costing, or concessions in taxes. Check these concessions in the state in which you live; and remember that concessions may vary from year to year, depending on the provisions of the State Budget.

4. Motor life:
E-bikes may not have the same life as a petrol vehicle because motors may not last as long as engines. However, motors are replaceable.

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5. Battery life:
The most important expense that the owner might bear is that of the batteries. The sealed, maintenance-free, lead acid batteries have a limited life and have to be replaced if they get damaged or if they no longer offer a range that is sufficient for the user’s needs. Batteries generally last for about a year; it is rare for batteries to last for 2 years. A lead acid battery set for an electric scooter set costs about Rs.13,000-19,000, depending on rating, brand, quality, and warranties. Lithium ion batteries do not seem to be available for electric scooters, as yet (at least in India); however, whereas these are better than lead acid batteries, they are far more expensive.

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Factors that  limit a battery’s life are:
a) Use. The more you use the bike, the earlier the batteries reach the end of their life. This, actually, is like most other things under the sun.
b) Time. Lead acid batteries deteriorate with time even if the bike is sparingly used.
c) Overcharging. Lead acid batteries can get permanently damaged if they are overcharged.

d) Brand. Branded batteries are probably longer-lasting and better in quality than unbranded ones.

Note that a set of batteries can permanently die out, all of a sudden, right in the middle of a journey. You may however have some warning, such as decreased range or power, or decreased charging time, in the previous week or two.

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