Monday, January 19, 2009

Yo bykes : Ab Rasta Hai Mere Pass

Brand : Yo Bykes
Company : Indus Electro-trans ( Electrotherm)
Agency : Canvas Communications

Brand Analysis Count : 373

Yo Bykes is the first electric Scooter to be launched in Indian market. Launched in 2006, this brand is a market leader in the Rs 500 crore electric scooter market in India. Yo is from Indus Electrotrans which is a division of Electrotherm India which is a major player in the foundry and steel industry.

When electric bikes & scooters were launched in India during 2006, there were lot of expectations about this category. The rising fuel prices , air pollution , growing concern about environment provided enough opportunity for such a product. The rising fuel costs were the most significant factor behind the growth of this category.

Yo Bykes rode on the back of the higher fuel prices. Electric scooters are dirt cheap to run compared to petrol vehicles. Compare the cost of Rs 50 for 500 km for electric scooters to Rs 50 per 60 km for petrol scooters.

Besides the advantage in running costs, electric scooters had also another advantage .There is no need for license or registration for certain variants. According to Indian rules, those vehicles which are powered by engine less than 250 watts and has the maximum speed less than 25 kmph do not need license.

Yo Bykes launched the first scooter in this category branded as Yo Smart.

The electric scooters gained rapid consumer attention across the country. The market saw the evolution of a new category . In 2007, the electric two wheelers sales was around 10,000 units thus taking 10% share in the two wheeler industry.

These figures attracted lot of players into the market. Most of the bicycle marketers ventured into this segment. Even large companies like TVS and Bajaj began to view this segment seriously.

TVS felt that electric scooters was a major threat to its Scooty brand. It proactively launched the electric version of Scooty to counter this threat.

How ever, the euphoria over electric scooters could not sustain its initial momentum. The sales peaked when there is a fuel price hike but then it is back to low volumes.

The main issue was the power of the vehicles. The standard electric scooters were severely underpowered. This was because of two reasons. To sell scooters that do not need registration, the power had to be kept low. Another reason was that when power was increased, the fuel efficiency will come down.

To counter this issue, Yo bykes launched another variant Yo Speed which was having an engine output of 750 watts . This was the first scooter to get the approval of Automotive Research Association of India. But these high powered scooters had a price equivalent to the petrol scooters.

Even after two years of launch, electric scooters have not been able to give a threat to its petrol competitors. These brands still occupy a niche rather than becoming the mainstream category.

All brands of electric scooters including Yo is positioned on the basis of its fuel efficiency. Although fuel efficiency is an important attribute for a consumer, it is not a determinant variable for purchase of a scooter.

Due to the lack of power, these electric scooters does not appeal to men. And many would also use scooters to travel with family, e-scooters is definitely not a choice in such a scenario.

Most of the customers for this category are ladies and self -employed men who travel short distances. The common perception is that e-scooters are like underpowered scooterettes. Although the running cost is low, the cost of ownership is at par with the ordinary scooters. There is also a yearly recurring cost for the replacement of battery. So when a customer does his mental accounting, electric scooters' fuel advantage is not compelling enough.

So will electric scooters replace petrol scooters ?
Then what is the future of electric scooters ?

The current differentiation of electric scooters on fuel efficiency will work only for certain segments of consumers. Yobykes have to find some other interesting propositions for the consumers to opt for such scooters.

Rather than competing with mainstream scooters, e-scooters should expoit multiple niches.

These scooters are excellent option aiming at students and pre-teens. It could be the First Scooter for everyone..

Another small niche are those environment conscious segment which are growing but now a very small one. Yo can partner with NGOs for a cleaner environment thus promoting the concept of such scooters.
Rather than focusing on fuel efficiency , YoBykes should be able to provide reasons for customers to chose an underpowered scooter. Otherwise, the brand will be highly dependent on the whims and fancies of OPEC 's oil barons.