The Time is Now for eScooters
    Category: Column By : Dr. Ralf von Baer Read : 746 Date : Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 12:18:23

    Last year, the number of motorbikes sold in Indonesia was more than six times than the number of cars sold. Although motorcycle sales fell slightly in 2015, Indonesia is the world’s third largest market with about seven million units sold a year, and this figure is expected to grow in coming years. Motorbikes are preferred transport for several reasons—first, they are cheaper than cars to buy and maintain. Second, they can weave through traffic jams and access side roads too small for cars. They also require minimal parking spaces. Third, they can be driven in rural areas, over dirt roads, and paths only wide enough for foot traffic. Finally, they can be adapted for all sorts of uses, from transporting entire families to mobile shops.

    Despite their practicality, motorbikes are the considerable source of CO2 emissions, accounting for 16% of total CO2 emission in 2013, more than cars with just 13%. Indonesia having signed the Paris Climate Summit 2015 agreement it has committed to significant reductions in CO2 emissions, so therefore there is a clear need for new two wheelers that are more environmentally friendly. We believe that electric scooters, called eScooters, can be the answer.

    As electric vehicles, eScooters do not emit CO2 in operation, but do need to access electrical power, which can be generated by power plants that release CO2. If the electricity is produced in high efficient modern power plants, the emission of CO2 per km is significantly lower than that of a traditional motorbike’s combustion engine. This electricity could also be provided by renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave or geothermal, and then the emission – which comes from setting up the plant - would be close to zero.

    With modern lithium-ion batteries and efficient motors and drive trains, the energy consumption of eScooters can be further reduced. Such systems extend also the range of eScooters. However, eScooters for now have higher total costs compared to combustion engines, which limits their appeal (although wider acceptance and higher production would drive down costs). As experience in other countries has shown, eScooters requires initially active support by the local government to offset their higher costs for reaching a large acceptance—such as by subsidizing battery costs. Other incentives for eScooters buyers could be free parking and use of roads which are closed for motorcycles.

    The acceptance of technology depends on part in making charging an eScooter as easy as filling up a regular motorbike with gas. The government can support this with the installation of charging stations, or, even better, swapping stations for eScooters users to exchange batteries with fully charged ones, eliminating the down time of charging. The Indonesian government has now a window of opportunity to ramp up the sales of modern eScooters. By doing so, the Indonesian government can also encourage the development of a local eScooter industry that later will be able to export its models.