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E-Scooters in India: Should You Rent or Buy?

E-scooters and e-bikes are becoming increasingly popular in India, especially as low-cost and environmentally friendly alternatives to petrol driven two-wheelers. With that said, does it make more financial sense to rent or buy an electric two-wheeler?

Electric two-wheelers are quickly becoming popular in India, with newer models being introduced every few months. The government is also increasingly pushing for electric vehicles as a viable alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles. While the retail market for these vehicles is heating up, more players are entering the two-wheeler rental market as well. In this article, we take a deep dive to consider whether buying a new scooter is really worth your money, or if you should be renting instead.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy an E-Scooter

First, it's important to understand the retail prices of various e-scooters available on the market in order to compare them against rental rates. Our research suggests that prices vary significantly when it comes to electric scooters. For example, models for as little as Rs. 37,000 and as much as Rs. 1 lakh. On average, e-scooters tend to go for about S$81,555.

Starting Prices of E-Scooters in India

With that said, not all e-scooters are created equally. For instance, more expensive models tend to offer more power and longer distances per charge. For those seeking to complete shorter journeys, these factors are not super important. However, they are important to consider if you will rely on your e-scooter for more extensive use.

ModelMotor PowerDistance per Full ChargeCharging TimeStarting Price
Hero Electric Flash LA250 W50 Km/charge8 - 10 hoursRs. 37,078
Hero Electric Photon1200-1800 W80 Km/charge3 - 4 hoursRs. 65,464
Revolt RV3001500 W180 Km/charge3 - 4.2 hoursRs. 84,999
Revolt RV4003000 W150 Km/charge3 - 4.5 hoursRs. 98,999
Ather 450X3300 W85 Km/charge4 - 4.5 hoursRs. 99,000
Bajaj Chetak4080 W95 km / charge5 hoursRs. 100,000
Ather 4503300 W85 Km/charge4 - 4.5 hoursRs. 107,000

How Much Does It Cost to Rent an E-Scooter?

At present, there are only a few players in the rental market. We analysed the prices of rental apps Zypp, Fae and Yulu. However, it is likely that competitors will begin to offer services in the future. Once more entrants offer rental services around India, it is likely that prices will decrease due to increased competition.

CompaniesCityRent
ZyppGurgaon, NCR, Hyderabad
  • Pay per ride: Re 2 per minute
  • 1 hour plan Rs. 39
  • 3 hr plan: Rs. 59
  • 6 hr plan: Rs. 79
  • 12 hr plan: Rs. 99
  • 24 hr plan: Rs. 149
FaeBangalore
  • Base Price: Rs. 10 for the first 10 minutes
  • Follow Up Price: Rs. 0.8 per minute after 10 minutes
YuluBangalore, Pune, Mumbai, BhubaneswarRide Charge:
  • Base Charge: Rs. 10 Base fare (Rs. 5 in Bangalore)
  • Rs. 10 for every 10 minutes (Rs 1.5 for every minute)
Pause Charge:
  • Rs. 5 for every 30 minutes (Rs 0.5 for every 1 min in Bangalore)
  • Rs. 90 maximum between 6:00pm to 10:00am

Based on these pricing schemes, the average price faced by consumers will vary significantly depending on their usage. For example, we estimate that an individual that uses a rental scooter consistently for short rides will pay about Rs. 20,800 per year, while a heavy user will pay about Rs. 65,700. For our calculations, we assume that light usage will entail 1 hour per day, 5 days per week, while heavy usage will entail 3 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Estimated Annual Cost of Renting E-Scooter in India

Should I Rent or Buy an E-Scooter?

Our analysis suggests that individuals are better off purchasing an e-scooter if they plan to take many trips and plan to use a scooter for several years. For example, renting quickly becomes more expensive for users that take daily trips and will rely on their scooter for transportation for a few years. On the other hand, renting offers simplicity and cost savings, especially for those that plan to use a rental service every once and awhile. While e-scooter owners need to worry about maintenance, charging and storage, renters can easily book a scooter for a short trip, at a relatively inexpensive rate. Therefore, infrequent users can save money by renting, while those that need a on-going source of transportation would save money by purchasing an e-scooter.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

In addition to pricing, there are a number of other issues that scooter riders should consider when deciding to purchase or rent.

Legal Issues

As per the Motor Vehicle rules in India, any electric two-wheeler which has a motor power rating of less than 250 W or a top speed of 25 kmph, does not require a license, registration or insurance. The rider is also not required to wear a helmet.

E-scooters with a higher power rating or top speed will definitely require a driving license, insurance and registration. You are also legally required to wear a helmet while riding a higher power e-scooter. However, the government is considering changes in these rules. A slow moving, low powered motor vehicle is also equally likely to be involved in an accident as a high power vehicle. Going forward, some of these rules may change.

Safety Concerns

While the law may allow you to ride a low speed, low powered model without a helmet, we suggest that you always wear one when you are riding. Medical studies show that wearing a helmet reduces your chances of head injury by at least 45%.

Similarly, having a vehicle insurance even for a 250 W model will save you a lot of hassle if you happen to meet with a mishap. As electric vehicles become more and more common on our roads, chances of accidents involving them will only increase. Keeping yourself safe—both physically and financially—is the smart thing to do.

Other Relevant Considerations

Additionally, if you plan to buy an Ather 450 or 450X e-scooter, it is worth talking to an Ather representative about their battery subscription pricing plan. When you purchase an e-scooter, you can either buy the scooter with the battery, or you can pay only for the e-scooter alone and have a subscription or rental plan for the battery. This way you can save some money in the short-term. Furthermore, you can save even more by paying for your e-scooter using a competitive rewards credit card. Depending on your preferences, it is possible to earn as much as 3% cashback or airline miles on a significant purchase like a scooter.

Also, the government of India under the FAME 2 program offers subsidies which can be availed by you when you are purchasing an electric vehicle. It is best to speak to the e-scooter manufacturers to find out if specific models are covered under this scheme and how this subsidy will be paid to you. Since this process varies by state and manufacturer, please make sure to get this information before you buy.