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E2WV Battery Swapping and Fast Charging Compete in India

Sep 08, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

India is a prime example of the scale of global opportunity for electric two-wheel vehicles (E2WVs), with more than 20 million two-wheel vehicles sales annually. Two major players, Ola Electric and Gogoro, are seeking to accelerate the electrification of the country’s massive gas-powered two-wheeler fleet through two very different approaches.

Fast Charging versus Battery Swapping

After receiving over 100,000 preorders on its first day, Ola Electric officially launched its first seated e-scooter in India on August 16, 2021. The company is producing the Ola S1 and the S1 Pro at its megafactory in Bangalore, India (which Ola claims will have an annual production capacity of 10 million seated e-scooters by the end of 2022). The following table shows Ola’s vehicle specifications.

Ola Electric Seated e-Scooter Specifications

Ola Electric Seated e-Scooter Specifications

(Source: Guidehouse Insights)

Both vehicles feature a digital voice assistant, keyless unlock, and a color touch screen. Pricing starts at ₹99,999 ($1,350)—a competitive entry point relative to gas-powered two-wheelers in India (most of which range from $500-$1,500). Several Indian states have local incentives that reduce the price of Ola’s vehicles down to ₹79,999 ($1,050). To supplement home charging for its vehicles, Ola is building the estimated largest and most dense charging network in the world for E2WVs. The company’s Hypercharger Network is expected to have 100,000 charging points across 400 Indian cities when completed. Ola claims that its technology can supply a 50% charge in 18 minutes, providing a range of 75 km (47 miles).

Gogoro is pursuing an entirely different approach to E2WVs in India, highlighted by the company’s proprietary battery swapping solution. The company has demonstrated a proof of concept for its technology in Taiwan, selling over 375,000 seated e-scooters (with roughly 800,000 in-network batteries) and managing over 200 million battery swaps since 2015. In April 2021, Gogoro announced its plans to build a battery swapping network in India through a JV with India-based Hero MotorCorp, the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer. (Hero also owned a 36% market share of the Indian two-wheeler category in 2020). Specifically, the two companies will collaborate to build Hero-branded E2WVs that use Gogoro’s battery swap network technology. Hero is expected to launch its first E2WV by March 2022.

Which Approach Will Prevail?

India is well-positioned to follow in China’s footsteps and become an enormous market for E2WVs over the next decade. Given the size of India’s total addressable market for two-wheelers, both Ola Electric and Gogoro have strong opportunities to be successful. That said, one charging approach has some advantages over another regarding time. Assuming that Ola’s figures are accurate, drivers will have to wait 18 minutes for a 50% charge (gaining 75 km or 47 miles of range). Conversely, swapping batteries at a Gogoro GoStation takes less than 30 seconds and provides up to 170 km (106 miles) of range. Additionally, in a battery swapping business model, consumers don’t have to worry about battery maintenance or cell deterioration over time because they don’t own the batteries.

Ola certainly has the first mover advantage and could establish a strong footprint of vehicle sales, fast charging stations, and brand loyalty throughout India. However, the technology and business model advantages of battery swapping over fast charging are significant. Gogoro’s strong track record with its battery swapping product line combined with Hero MotorCorp’s lead in the Indian two-wheeler market may create a compelling alternative to Ola’s offering when launched in early 2022.