Piaggio electrifies its Ape three-wheeler for India
The Piaggio Ape, a versatile three-wheeler first introduced 70 years ago, is receiving an electric makeover with the busy streets of India in mind. The new Ape E-City is a fully electric version of the brand’s storied transporter, and features swappable batteries to ensure it can stay on the move.
Tuk-tuks, rickshaws and vehicles like the Piaggio Ape have come to play an important role in the day-to-day life of Indian cities. Not only are they used as taxi services to plug holes in public transport, but they also serve as mobile micro-businesses selling street food and other goods.
But with air pollution a growing concern, the Indian government is intent on moving toward cleaner versions of its two- and three-wheeled vehicles. Its Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) program encourages electric mobility through a reduced goods and services tax on these vehicles, among other incentives.
Introduced today in New Delhi, Piaggio describes the Ape E-City as its entry into the Indian electric commercial vehicle market. The vehicle will be powered by battery-swap tech from Indian energy company Sun Mobility, allowing depleted batteries to be switched over for charged ones in under two minutes.
These swaps will take place at a network of Sun Mobility’s interchange stations, which is expected to include 50 locations in 10 Indian cities by March 2020. These stations will be capable of handling up to 150 battery swaps per day, with customers gaining access through a “pay-as-you-go” model.
According to Sun Mobility, this “battery as a service” approach was key in lowering the upfront purchase cost of the Ape E-City, putting it on par with an internal-combustion version.
"At Piaggio, we believe in providing path breaking solutions in the last mile transportation segment with best in class technology offerings to our customers,” says Diego Graffi, CEO of Piaggio Vehicles. “Our partnership with Sun Mobility will enable customers to experience a very innovative, smart and unique swappable smart battery eco-system in India.”