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#HTSpotlight: How electric vehicle owners are beating the petrol price hike in Pune

While zero pollution is a big factor for electric vehicles, with prices of petrol skyrocketing, the magic is now in the numbers

pune Updated: Sep 26, 2018 14:14 IST
Prachi Bari and Roopesh Raj
Prachi Bari and Roopesh Raj
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,smart chargers,petrol price hike
(From left to right) Vaibhav Kankhar, Class 10 student; Edward Pereira, owner, Dutch Palace; Edward’s manager Ravi Kankhar and Edward’s son Nathan Pereira with their electric bikes at Dutch Palace on Monday.(Saumya James/HT PHOTO )

Petrol @ Rs 90, the news spread quickly and in viral terms, remains the talking point for pretty much every resident in the city. Petrol and diesel prices have, in fact, been the talking point for the last 30 days, as the cost inched up every day, prodded on by a vicious concoction of the Indian rupee losing value in international markers, cost of a barrel of oil and then, homegrown bogey boys of VAT and state cess. That petrol bomb exploded across the city on Monday - petrol @ ₹90.

Not on a five-acre plot in the heart of the city, however.

At the Dutch Palace, 15 Bund Garden road, smiles greet this journalist as he alights his petrol vehicle to meet the electri-vehicle-savvy whizzes on the vast grounds of this marriage destination.

The owner of Dutch Palace, Edward Pereira, is not short on cash. His mansion of a home (a mansion once owned by the Tatas, no less), overlooks acres of greenery and foilage, that today he rents out for marriages. Edward Pereira can afford to buy any vehicle he desires. So why then did he, at the top end of the economic scale, choose to buy an electric two-wheeler - Hero Optima.The Dutch Palace may well be the lungs of Pune, at least on the east side of the city. With the railway station on one side and Wadia College on the other, traffic and pollution are in no short supply once you step outside the grounds where Britishera architecture lives on with some aplomb. However, inside, clean, fresh air seems to pervade the senses. That may have to do as much with the 2,000 trees on site, as it may have to do with the fact, the boss, Pereira, has a e-vehicle revolution going. Not only does he have an Hero Optima, his site manager also owns one now, as does his mandap point-man.

While zero pollution is a big factor for two-wheeler e-vehicles, with petrol skyrocketing, the magic may now be in the numbers.

Pereira’s manager is Ravi Kankhar. His wife is Nanda and son, in Class 10, is Vaibhav. Inspired in no small way by his boss’ wisdom in purchasing an e-bike for his own son, Nathan, Kankhar followed suit and today claims to save, on average, at least ₹94 per day, when it comes to petrol expenditure.

Both Pereira and Kankhar have other two-wheelers; an Activa and a Pleasure, respectively. Those are simply parked now, run once in a way. It is the electric bike that does the daily running; and the monetary benefit is huge.

“My son, Nathan, finished his Class 10, was going to junior college and wanted mobility. So, I opted to buy him the e-bike because at this battery power you do not need a licence, given Nathan at the time was 16,” Edward explains. Pereira’s expenditure on the Optima was₹39,000, base model. That was 12 months ago.

“In this one year, I have had no trouble, apart from once, a small electrical issue which cost ₹80 to fix,” Pereira claims, adding, “The bike goes 60km on one full charge at a maximum speed of 27-kmph.”

“My son has never had to ask me for petrol money and he is completely mobile,” the 45-yearold land owner muses, “No additional charges like insurance either.” Kankhar, who is substantially lower on the economic scale than Pereira is even more effusive in his praise for the monetary benefits of owning an e-bike.

“My family uses the bike almost continuously, the whole day. I use it in the morning, then my wife rides it for house work and my son uses it for his tuitions. We have a time-table and ensure it runs 60-km in the day quite easily. We then put it to charge at night, wake up in the morning and off we go again,” says Kankhar, who has the digital model of the Optima - all displays on the bike are digital with a USB port as well; one model up from his boss.

Both men are well aware of the eco-impact of owning an electric two wheeler - the eco prefix as much for ‘economic’ as for ‘ecological’ and ‘environment’. Both are also fully aware that they currently own these bikes running on lead-acid batteries, which have a shelf life of approximately four years.

“The bike batteries can be upgraded to a single lithium ion battery. It will cost ₹15,000, approximately, but, that is a battery you can detach, and take up to your room to charge. Also it lasts longer,” muses Pereira.

“I am waiting to buy an electric car,” Kankhar adds, noting that all e-cars available in India are currently not in his budget.

Electric cars

Madhavi Kolte lives in Pimple Saudagar and bought her compact, four-seater electric Mahindra Reva E2O for ₹7 lakhs, more than a year ago, to do her bit to reduce pollution.

Madhavi, a sculptor , finds it a very functional car with basic comforts. It has no gears and therefore, no clutch and comes without any fancy accessories.

Since she charges the car using photovoltaic solar energy panels, it is practically free of cost for her. “I need to plan my travel well because as of now I can charge it only at home,” says Madhavi who finds the car to be of compact size which makes it easy to manoeuvre in Pune’s traffic.She saves about ₹4,000 per month in fuel, which works out to almost ₹48,000 per year.

The use of electricity by the car is equivalent to running an air conditioner (AC) for about 4 hours, says Madhavi. While there are advantages, Madhavi feels that she did not make a wellinformed decision while buying the e-car. She wanted to help reduce pollution but she doubts whether electric cars can help achieve that.

“I realised the adverse ecological impact e-car are having on our planet by considering the life cycle analysis of any manufactured product,” she said. She adds that she is aware that natural resources are exploited and extracted to make the e-car.

“Battery that is running on the car has adverse effects . I feel an E-car pollutes the environment more than a regular car,” she sad. She admits that earlier she used to think that improved technology will solve the environmental problems. But after her course with Ecological Society , she understood how embodied energies are used by technology and this is the basis for destruction of the planet . She signs off by saying, “I will not advice anyone to buy this car if they want to do their bit for the environment.”

Users share experience

‘More charging points needed’

Hema Chari, who resides in Bhosale nagar near Range Hills, loves her little car and feels glad she took the decision to go for an electric vehicle.

“I bought my little Reva in 2008. I am very environment conscious person. I wanted to stop using petrol and go green and that is when I was introduced to Reva. I have been using this car every day since I bought it. Now, I have given it to my sister to drive.It works best for the smaller lanes of the city. However, it can’t be used for long distance drive,” she says. The car is “very compact,” she says, and easy to drive as it is electric. It can climb flyovers with ease and is also easy to navigate.

“I used it a lot to pick up my children from school to even run my household chores,” she said. Hema bought the car for ₹4 lakh in 2008.

“It is important that you use this car every day and maintain it well. Only then will it gives a good mileage. There are vehicles which give a mileage between 70 and 120 kilometres every single time the battery is fully charged. The e-car needs minimum electricity for charging. I wish there were more charging points in the city so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting stuck somewhere.”

‘No petrol, no worry about cops’

Nathan Pereira does not look 17, standing at six-feet tall. He has been zipping around on the Hero Optima for over a year now; college, classes, no classes, wherever.

He says, “It’s more an electric-cycle than a bike. Once you stop at a signal, it takes at least 40-50 metres to pick-up to any level of speed.”

And Nathan has the bike’s top speed at 40kmph, once fully charged and revving nicely. “The convenience is great. No petrol and since you do not need a licence for the bike I have, I do not have to worry about cops,” says the Class 12 student of Dastur.

Nathan does use a helmet when riding his electric-bike.

While this electric vehicle is really a level up from a cycle and as Nathan points out is more “slow and steady” than fast and flashy, a host of companies offer a host of twowheeler electric vehicles in the city.

Miracle 5, Yokohama Ridge and Hero, all offer a range of two-wheelers run on batteries, starting from ₹ 40,000 all the way up to ₹1.5 lakh for which licence is needed.

-------------------

Petrol @ Rs 90, the news spread quickly and in viral terms, remains the talking point for pretty much every resident in the city. Petrol and diesel prices have, in fact, been the talking point for the last 30 days, as the cost inched up every day, prodded on by a vicious concoction of the Indian rupee losing value in international markers, cost of a barrel of oil and then, homegrown bogey boys of VAT and state cess.That petrol bomb exploded across the city today - petrol @ Rs 90.

Not on a five-acre plot in the heart of the city, however.

At the Dutch Palace, 15 Bund Garden road, smiles greet this journalist as he alights his petrol vehicle to meet the electri-vehicle-savvy whizzes on the vast grounds of this marriage destination.

The owner of Dutch Palace, Edward Pereira, is not short on cash. His mansion of a home (a mansion once owned by the Tatas, no less), overlooks acres of greenery and foilage, that today he rents out for marriages. Edward Pereira can afford to buy any vehicle he desires. So why then did he, at the top end of the economic scale, choose to buy an electric two-wheeler - Hero Optima.

The Dutch Palace may well be the lungs of Pune, at least on the east side of the city. With the railway station on one side and Wadia College on the other, traffic and pollution are in no short supply once you step outside the grounds where British-era architecture lives on with some aplomb.

However, inside, clean, fresh air seems to pervade the senses. That may have to do as much with the 5,200 trees on site, as it may have to do with the fact, the boss, Pereira, has a e-vehicle revolution going. Not only does he have an Hero Optima, his site manager also owns one now, as does his mandap point-man.

While zero pollution is a big factor for two-wheeler e-vehicles, with petrol skyrocketing, the magic may now be in the numbers.

Pereira’s manager is Ravi Kankhar. His wife is Nanda and son, in Class 10, is Vaibhav. Inspired in no small way by his boss’ wisdom in purchasing an e-bike for his own son, Nathan, Kankhar followed suit and today claims to save, on average, at least Rs 94 per day, when it comes to petrol expenditure.

Both Pereira and Kankhar have other two-wheelers; an Activa and a Pleasure, respectively. Those are simply parked now, run once in a way. It is the electric bike that does the daily running; and the monetary benefit is huge.

“My son, Nathan, finished his Class 10, was going to junior college and wanted mobility. So, I opted to buy him the e-bike because at this battery power you do not need a licence, given Nathan at the time was 16,” Edward explains.

Pereira’s expenditure on the Optima was Rs 39,000, base model. That was 12 months ago. “In this one year, I have had no trouble, apart from once, a small electrical issue which cost Rs 80 to fix,” Pereira claims, adding, “The bike goes 60km on one full charge at a maximum speed of 27-kmph.”

“My son has never had to ask me for petrol money and he is completely mobile,” the 45-year-old land owner muses, “No additional charges like insurance either.”

Kankhar, who is substantially lower on the economic scale than Pereira is even more effusive in his praise for the monetary benefits of owning an e-bike.

“My family uses the bike almost continuously, the whole day. I use it in the morning, then my wife rides it for house work and my son uses it for his tuitions. We have a time-table and ensure it runs 60-km in the day quite easily. We then put it to charge at night, wake up in the morning and off we go again,” says Kankhar, who has the digital model of the Optima - all displays on the bike are digital with a USB port as well; one model up from his boss.

Both men are well aware of the eco-impact of owning an electric two wheeler - the eco prefix as much for ‘economic’ as for ‘ecological’ and ‘environement’. Both are also fully aware that they currently own these bikes running on lead-acid batteries, which have a shelf life of approximately four years.

“The bike batteries can be upgraded to a single lithium ion battery. It will cost Rs 15,000, approximately, but, that is a battery you can detach, and take up to your room to charge. Also it lasts longer,” muses Pereira.

“I am waiting to buy an electric car,” Kankhar adds, noting that all e-cars available in India are currently not in his budget.

First Published: Sep 25, 2018 14:39 IST