The future of mobility is going electric, and the next big thing in electric mobility, at least in India, is going to be a number of electric scooters hitting the market. Now, even mainstream two-wheeler manufacturers are getting into the electric two-wheeler space. The TVS iQube is the company's new electric scooter, and joins a growing number of popular names like the Ather 450X, from EV start-up Ather Energy, and the Bajaj Chetak, in the electric scooter segment. Priced at ₹ 1.15 lakh (on-road, Bengaluru), the iQube is said to have been completely developed in-house at TVS Motor Company's manufacturing facility in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. It's taken TVS close to two years to design and develop the iQube, and now we get a first taste of what it is, and how it rides.
The iQube has some components sourced from outside, like the lithium ion cells for the battery, which have been sourced from LG, Korea, and the hub-mounted brushless DC motor, which is designed and developed by Bosch. But apart from that, the battery packs, the controller and everything else in the iQube electric scooter have been developed in-house by TVS. The iQube marks a new chapter in the history of TVS Motor Company, and is designed as a clean and green lectric alternative to conventional 110 cc and even 125 cc scooters.
How does it look?
The TVS iQube is a handsome scooter. It's well-proportioned, looks neat, and the overall design is stylish, without being over-the-top. Build quality is top notch, the styling quite modern, and with its slightly unconventional stance, it does look a little different from any other scooter you see on the roads.
Full LED lighting, including a LED position lamp, twin LED headlights, LED turn indicators, as well as LED taillamp, make the iQube look premium. And then, there's a new full-colour, 5-inch TFT instrument console, which offers a long list of features, including smartphone connectivity, through TVS Motor Company's SmartXonnect system, which first made its debut on the TVS NTorq 125.
The Bluetooth-enabled, full-colour instrument console offers connectivity through a dedicated mobile app, which offers a long list of features, including turn-by-turn satellite navigation, geo-fencing, over-speed alert, ride analytics, and even incoming call and SMS alerts, when paired with a smartphone. In addition, owners can also monitor live battery charging status while the scooter is being charged, as well as see distance to empty while riding the scooter, battery status and regeneration indication, along with other features.
While starting up, the screen displays an idle mode, and the rider will have to press the brake and mode switch together to activate the motor; it's added as a safety feature, to prevent the scooter from lurching forward at start-up. It comes with two riding modes - Eco, and Sport, with different battery range and performance for each mode. A side stand down indicator also inhibits the scooter from being operated; again a safety feature. And there's a park assist feature as well, which has a forward top speed of around 10-12 kmph, and a reverse speed of around 3 kmph with a warning beep, offered to assist in parking and to reverse park in tight spaces.
Battery Charging Time and Range
The TVS iQube gets three lithium-ion battery packs, one under the floorboard, one just under the rider seat position and one behind, where a fuel tank is usually seen on a conventional internal combustion engine scooter. The batteries can be charged with a home charger from a conventional 10A power socket, which is provided along with the scooter. Public charging infrastructure is through TVS dealerships (so far, 10 across Bengaluru), and can be done through a 15A power socket. According to TVS, a fast charger will also be introduced in the near future. Over 75 per cent of the battery can be charged in under four hours, with just under 100 per cent charge possible in around 5 hours. Maximum range is rated at 75 km on a single charge, but is dependent on riding style and selected mode; more on that below.
How does it ride?
The 2.25 kWh battery powers a hub-mounted electric motor developed by Bosch, with rated maximum power of 4.4 kW, which, in horsepower terms, translates to approximately 6 bhp. It's quiet, as is expected from an electric drivetrain, and the 140 Nm of peak torque propels the scooter forward with urgency. The claimed top speed of more than 78 kmph is achieved without fuss, and the iQube will happily cruise between 60 and 70 kmph all day long, but you have to choose Sport mode for that kind of performance. Range however, will be compromised with full performance, going down to 55 km in Sport mode. In Eco mode, top speed is limited to around 45 kmph, but claimed range goes up to full 75 km on a single charge.
The iQube also allows regenerative braking, so every time you close the throttle to slow down, energy is transferred to re-charge the battery. It runs on 12-inch wheels at both ends, with a telescopic front suspension, and twin rear shocks. Braking duties are handled by a 220 mm front disc brake, and 130 mm rear drum brake, with standard combi-brake system (CBS). Braking, for the most part, is sharp, but the CBS has slightly more rear-biased, so the rear wheel tends to lock up under hard braking, if using just the rear brake lever. But in case of emergency braking, using both the brake levers together provides a simple solution around this issue.
Our first ride at the TVS test track was on smooth tarmac, so we'll reserve our comments about ride quality, until we get the iQube for a proper review in real world conditions, but what is immediately likeable is the way it handles! Show it some spirited riding, and the iQube is no exception to the kind of dynamics we have begun to expect from TVS two-wheelers of late. Around a corner, it's extremely likeable, and fun to throw around even, and offers stable and confident handling. And even with a pillion on board, there's no significant drop in performance, which is quite welcome. And yes, the pillion seat offers a wide and comfortable perch, so full points there as well.
The TVS iQube offers a well-rounded product, with superb build quality, very likeable neutral design and decent performance as well. It may not be lightning fast, but it has more than enough grunt to keep most riders happy, including even converts from conventional scooters with internal combustion engines. Priced at ₹ 1.15 lakh (On-road Bengaluru), the iQube also offers the support of a public charging infrastructure across TVS dealership outlets. It's priced roughly similar to the Bajaj Chetak electric scooter ( ₹ 1.15 lakh), and is slightly more expensive than the Ather 450X, which is priced at ₹ 1.13 lakh (On-road, Bengaluru).
Our first experience with the TVS iQube electric scooter has been nothing short of impressive. It looks great, built well, is loaded with features, and offers a combination of very good range and performance. And that leads us to say, with conviction, that the future of TVS Motor Company's electric mobility division seems to be promising if the TVS iQube is any yardstick as a starting point. Well done, TVS!
(Photography: Pawan Dagia)