We keep hearing of electric scoots as either the desirable, costly examples, or as the bargain basement nuts-and-bolt contraptions. So here we set our gaze onto some e-scoots that would be more the style of the average city dweller
Most people, when they think of electric scooters, imagine the flimsy, slow and quirky contraptions of the past that could be equated more to a hobby horse than as a mode of transport. And they aren’t really wrong. Electric scooter technology is still in its infancy, and the multitude of brands mushrooming out actually do more harm than good; saturating the market with Chinese-made cookie-cutter EVs instead of fostering healthy competition.
Hence, we gathered three vehicles from manufacturers as disparate as we could find, to give you an idea of what should ideally constitute an electric scooter fit to be chosen over the reams of readily available ICE examples. First on the list is the Eeve Xeniaa, from Bhubaneshwar-based startup Omjay EV. Eeve currently has four electric scooters in its portfolio (Xeniaa, 4U, Your, and Wind) and is so far operational only in South-East India.
Next we have the B8 from BGauss, a sub-brand of electrical components manufacturer RR Kabel. Like the Eeve Xeniaa, the B8 is a recently launched product from a new brand; however that’s where the similarity ends. Whereas the Xeniaa is positioned as an urban runabout, BGauss professes the B8 as a flagship offering, perhaps aimed at premium EV brands with names starting with letters immediately preceding and succeeding its own (wink wink).
And finally there’s the Magnus Pro, the flagship electric scooter from Ampere, the EV subsidiary of electronics manufacturer Greaves Cotton, and an established player with almost 12 years of market experience.
Well then, that’s the introductions taken care of. Let’s move ahead
Neither of three here has the obvious visual cues associated with stereotypical electric scooters. There’s a welcome lack of unnecessary edges or overdone graphics, and all three get ‘proper’ 10-inch scooter tyres. Diving in deeper, the B8 looks best put together. The LED headlights, taillights and indicators are understated geometric shapes and work well, offering impressive illumination, while the blue backlit cluster is informative, easy to read and looks much better than the monochrome units on the other two.
Moving now to features, and the B8 seems to have it all, three riding modes (like the Xeniaa, the Magnus has two), regenerative braking (like the Magnus, absent on the Xeniaa), easy-to-reach buttons, large mirrors (the best in present company), a USB charging port on the front apron as well as the option for charging the scooter without removing the battery (both features also seen only on the Magnus) and an anti-theft alarm. There is even reverse assist (which is fiddly at best) and a boost mode (more on that later).
However, the B8 isn’t perfect. The underseat storage is good only for small knick-knacks or a half-face helmet, and the battery under the storage area is accessed by opening a panel held in place by three bolts, which isn’t the most secure. Next, the small overall size means carrying a rider and pillion is nigh impossible if either is close to six feet tall. And the overactive anti-theft alarm creates a cacophony if the scooter is switched on without first ‘unlocking’ it via the key fob.
Next, the Eeve Xeniaa. Being a new(-ish) product, has some rough edges from the get-go. Despite being similarly sized to a conventional scooter, the ergonomics seem lacking, courtesy the short footboard. The pillion, too, gets a small niche instead of dedicated footpegs. The buttons are a stretch to operate, and the underseat storage is monopolised by the battery, leaving a narrow space for your essentials (mobile, wallet, perhaps a water bottle) and not much else.
Finally we have the Magnus Pro, which garnered the most compliments from passers-by, considering it looks closest to an ICE scooter. It also best accommodates two and has ample underseat storage with even an LED light (an exclusive feature). There are small niggles, though. The headlight has a narrow beamspread, and the flipped position for the horn and indicator buttons need some getting used to.
On the go
All three set off easily from standstill (courtesy the tyres), though the lighter Xeniaa has a better initial ‘kick.’ This, however, is soon negated, as it is 5kmph slower than the B8 and almost 10kmph (depending on your breakfast) than the Magnus Pro. Side note: the B8’s Boost option is hardly a viable solution, as twisting the throttle while pressing a button placed where an engine killswitch would usually be is an awkward proposition. The Magnus Pro really shines in traffic, as the Xeniaa and especially the B8, due to the high seat and low (or close) ‘bars, aren’t as easy to manoeuvre without your knees getting in the way.
Caveat emptor: all three abruptly cut power when engaging the brakes, a particular bugbear during U-turns. Another shared issue is the composure over bad roads, where the Magnus is just about adequate (though nowhere close to most ICE-powered scoots), while the Xeniaa feels skittish, and the B8, though initially unfazed, thuds through over sharper undulations.
The biggest differentiator, however, is the braking performance. Though both the Xeniaa and B8 feature discs front and rear, the Magnus Pro’s all-drum setup can’t really be faulted. Why, you ask? Because both the BGauss and Ampere get a Combined Braking System, a vital feature the Eeve misses out on, and an apparent dealbreaker on our jaywalker-infested roads. The B8, though, comes out top trumps courtesy its light weight.
The final word
Before we declare a winner, there’s the niggling question of why must someone part with their hard-earned money to purchase these mid-segment electric scoots when, for just a bit more, they can score some top-shelf machinery such as the Ather 450, Chetak or TVS iQube.
Now, I hate to play the devil’s advocate here, but considering all the machinery present here today, as well as the shiny examples of those just mentioned, there comes a small matter of market experience. You may claim all three (Ather, Chetak and TVS) already have in-depth knowledge of the Indian customer, but there’s a small matter of the difference of selling ICE scooters and e-scooters (Bajaj and TVS). And then there’s Ather, a halo brand that has, so far, established its grasp only in its home base of Bengaluru. Now, though both BGauss and Eeve do fall short in this regard, Ampere’s 12-year experience (so far) with e-scoots as well as commercial EVs, widen the margin further.
So after that brief, yet necessary diversion, we get back to the matter at hand: Of the three scooters on test today, the Eeve Xeniaa sticks out with the least range, compounded by the lack of battery regen (despite getting a lithium-ion battery with a three-to-four hour charging period, just like the other two), low top speed, and sub-par braking and ride quality.
The end result then, as with most comparisons, boils down to the all-important price tag. Retailing at Rs 82,999 (ex-showroom), the Bgauss B8, though talking the flagship talk (with a side stand cut-off, Bluetooth alerts and even a mobile app for charging point locators, among other features), is Rs 9000 dearer than the Ampere Magnus Pro, and so becomes a hard sell for a first-time e-scoot customer looking for some bang for his buck. Suffice to say, though, that if BGauss were to create a scooter with larger dimensions, then it would be tough to fault, even when looking at more premium machinery.
And so, to our eyes, the Ampere Magnus Pro wins this comparo, and is the one we would put our moolah on (in case the worldwide oil reserves deplete tomorrow, that is).