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The case for switching to electric scooters

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He has adopted eco-friendly shopping habits as well—swapping leather wallets and belts with faux leather products. “These cost 30-40% more than original leather products. Green alternatives to everything cost extra but it doesn’t pinch me as I practise minimalism and, hence, the costs don’t add up for me too quickly,” said Sharma.

However, the same cannot be said to be true for others who may be looking to adopt a greener lifestyle and are regular shoppers. Take kitchen items for instance. Food wraps, natural dishwash liquid, disposable garbage bags, glass storage containers, etc., cost 2x-4x of their conventional counterparts (see graphic). It can be argued that prices of these items are not prohibitively expensive, if considered as standalone expenditure. For instance, a beeswax food wrap costs about 480 and can be reused multiple times. Or, six pieces of glass containers with a shelf life of 2-3 years are priced at 500, which is less than a movie outing for two people costs. However, since these items are used and purchased regularly, the extra cost can add up overtime.

Though the premium has not been a deterrent for Sharma to adopt green items, he pointed out that the manner in which such products are sold defeats their very purpose. “These items are mostly available online and they come wrapped in so much plastic that it makes the whole point of buying green products redundant.”

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Yet, there are other eco-friendly measures that can help you save money, such as driving an electric vehicle (EV) and installing a solar panel in your home. These too come with an expensive price tag, but the savings in bills offsets the upfront costs overtime and result in net savings after five to six years of usage.

Solar panels

The harnessing of solar power not only helps people cut down on their carbon footprint but also slash their monthly electricity bills by 40-100%.

In March, Noida-based Ashish Jain changed the electrical fittings of his two and a half-storey house to energy efficient equipment and installed a 5kWh solar system that covers about 70% of his total power consumption. Jain said his power bills have reduced drastically. “Earlier, I would pay around 8,000-9,000 in bills, which has now come down to 1,500-2,000. In winters, I only have to pay the minimum mandatory charge of 650,” said Jain.

The reduction in power bill is partly to be attributed to the adoption of LED lighting and energy-efficient fans and air conditioners. “Even then, I’ve analysed that I wouldn’t be paying more than 2,000,” he said.

An urban household of four people that regularly uses two air conditioners requires a 4-5 KwH solar system. A 5 kWh solar system can cost 2.5-3.25 lakh. “A solar system that includes an annual maintenance contract (AMC) is priced at the higher end. We recommend the AMC as solar systems lose efficiency by 30% in six months and up to 50% in two years if they are not cleaned regularly,” said Shreya Mishra, founder and CEO, SolarSquare, a residential solar company.

The upfront cost of the solar system is easily offset by savings in power bills over 5-6 years (see graphic). A solar system’s life span is about 20 years, which means that from the 7th year onwards, the reduced power bill will translate into net savings for you.

Electric scooters

The prices of EV scooters range from 60,000 to 1.7 lakh, depending on their power, tech features and their range (distance covered on a fully-charged EV). Hero Electric, Ampere, and Bounce have priced their scooters below 80,000, while Ather, Ola, and Simple Energy One, among others, manufacture scooters with superior features costing upwards of 1 lakh.

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These prices are quoted after deducting the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles Phase II, or FAME II, subsidy offered by the central government to promote EV adoption.

Besides the FAME II subsidy, some states including Delhi, Gujarat and West Bengal offer subsidy to first-time buyers of an electric scooter and even waive off registration and road taxes. First-time buyers also get tax benefits of up to 1.5 lakh under section 80EEB on interest paid on a loan taken to purchase an EV.

These measures can bring down the upfront cost of purchasing electric scooters by 10-15%.

However, the main component that substantially brings down the total cost of owning an electric two-wheeler is its running cost. To analyse how much you can expect to save by using an electric scooter vis-a-vis a petrol one, Mint compared Honda’s Activa 125 with Ola S1 (see chart).

Driving an electric scooter saves you about 90% on fuel costs alone. Service and maintenance costs of electric scooters work out to one-fifth of their petrol counterparts. So, can the low running costs offset the high upfront price burden?

Yes, but only for those who commute longer distances regularly, and it can take over 5 years to break even.

Mint’s calculation showed that by running your electric scooter for a monthly average of 900km, the total savings over a period of six years, compared to a scooter that runs on petrol is 61,755, which is roughly how much extra you pay upfront in purchasing an electric scooter .

However, if your average monthly commute is 300 km or less, the running cost of a petrol scooter will work out cheaper over six years. This means that an electric scooter is a costly proposition for those who drive occasionally. Take note that this calculation includes the cost of battery replacement, which ranges between 25,000 and 35,000. However, most electric scooter manufacturers give a five-year warranty on the battery and claim that it doesn’t need a replacement before 6-7 years. So, if you don’t replace the battery, your savings will increase by another 30,000.

The other major cost, apart from the purchase price of an electric scooter, pertains to the installation of charging infrastructure. Electric scooters can be charged in a standard wall socket; so, those with an independent house and personal parking space do not have to bear this cost. “In gated societies, the residents welfare Association (RWA) can get the facility installed and recoup this cost from EV owners by charging a premium on their electricity bills,” said Sameer Ranjan Jaiswal, CEO, Charzer.

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