When we talk about electric scooters, we have to also talk about the dashing young electric scooter startup - Ather Energy. They have upped the ante with their Ather 450 electric scooter to such a high level, that even ICE manufacturers like Bajaj, TVS are still catching up.
And in January 2020, Ather has enhanced their product further by increasing performance, and adding new features. This is the Ather 450X, which is scheduled to be released in monsoon 2020.
So just how does Bajaj’s Chetak compare to Ather’s 450X?
Bajaj Chetak comes in 2 variants: Chetak Premium & Chetak Urbane. Both variants will offer the same range and performance with differences in fit and finish. Bajaj claims a range of 95 km can be achieved. They say that the range is real world range and the ARAI number is a higher figure. Ather on the other hand, will discontinue the 450 model and will only sell the 450X model which comes in two variants - “Plus” and “Pro”. According to Ather, these are capable of going 70 km and 85 km respectively. Also Ather considers this as true range.
When it comes down to it, you are essentially getting a similar range with the Chetak and the 450X Pro. The “Plus” variant of the Ather 450X will offer a lower range.
Both the Chetak variants - Chetak Premium & Chetak Urbane, offer the same performance.
The Bosch branded electric motor offers a peak power of 4.08 kW and goes from 0 to 40 kmph in around 4.5 seconds. We tested the Chetak and could get it to go upto 70 kmph.
The Ather 450X’s electric motor offers a peak power of 6.00 kW and goes from 0 to 40 kmph
in 3.3 seconds. Ather says that, both the variants of the 450X will go upto 80 kmph.
The Chetak comes with a bigger battery pack. The Bosch made battery pack
stores 3 kWh energy in it, and Bajaj offers a 3 years/50,000 km warranty.
The Ather 450X has a 2.9 kWh battery pack, which is made by themselves. While Ather offers a 3 year warranty on the battery pack, if purchased outright.
We estimate a range degradation of around 20% after 3 years/36,000 km of riding. Also the battery replacement cost should be around Rs 40,000 say in 5-6 years time.
If you are on the Ather 450X subscription plan, you need not worry about battery degradation or battery replacement as long as you pay your monthly fee to Ather.
We have to tell you that the batteries in both the Chetak and Ather 450X are fixed and cannot be removed for charging.
There are advantages and drawbacks to such a setup. A fixed battery will ensure there is less wear and tear on the battery case, the connectors and will age better.
A removable battery offers the flexibility to charge at home or work - unfortunately neither Chetak nor Ather offers that convenience. But installing a 15 amp socket at your parking should be straightforward, thousands of EV owners have done it and both Ather and Bajaj will help you setup a charge unit provided you get permission from your society to draw a line from your meter or to setup charge points in common areas.
Ather is installing public charging stations at local businesses in every city where they are operating. Ather electric scooters will charge at a faster rate in these public charging stations.
While Bajaj has not announced any such public charging stations initiative yet. Do note Bajaj Chetak scooter can charge at an Ather public charging station, but it will be a paid service.
One of Ather 450X’s most appealing aspects for buyers is the connected tech. The vehicle's 7 inch touchscreen replaces all buttons, switches and gives riders access to everything that you need from odometer to trip efficiency data. Then there is Google Maps integration, scanned document storage, bluetooth integration - all accessed via the 7 inch touchscreen.
Ather also has a mobile app that lets you track battery state of charge, push documents to the scooter and shows ride statistics.
Chetak does offer connectivity where you can protect it from theft and receive notifications in case of an accident or unauthorised access. You can also set your music and read helpful riding tips.
Chetak however seems to have taken a different approach regarding the dash. There is no touch screen here, you have a modern yet retro LCD display that shows all the information you need.
The Chetak team did tell us that the scooter will have software updates at the service station, while Ather 450X owners will get software updates over the air.
The Chetak’s two variants Premium and Urbane have an onroad price of 1,19,350 & 1,04,271 respectively.
The Ather’s two variants 450X “Pro” & “450X “Plus” have a price of 1,59,000 & 1,49,000.
Do note that these prices include the FAME 2 subsidy of around Rs 25,000 offered on electric vehicles. But registration, insurance and other costs are extra in the case of Ather.
Ather allows you to buy the vehicle with a battery lease scheme, where you pay 99,000 upfront and pay 1699 or 1999 per month - which will ensure you need not worry about battery replacement.
Ather also charges an optional Rs 400 per month for connectivity features that has access to all data based features like navigation, mobile app connectivity, software updates and unlimited public charging.
Regarding connectivity fees, Bajaj includes the first year in the base price and you will have to pay a fee every month for connectivity after the 1st year. The fee has not been announced yet.
While many of you might balk, at these prices, do note that there are petrol scooters that sell at a price point of more one lakh rupees. For example, the Vespa Elegante 150 or Vespa WXL 150 and there are petrol scooters that sell at rates greater than Rs 80k.
If you look at the total cost of ownership, electric scooters like the Ather 450X and Chetak win all the time due to low cost of fuel and less maintenance.
While the Chetak’s pricing seems more affordable relatively, we still are not sure if this is an introductory price by Bajaj. Do note that the Chetak matched the pricing of the Ather 450 when it was launched. Now that Ather has bumped the price of their 450X model, will Bajaj also be tempted to do so? That remains to be seen.
So what can you take away from this?
We can clearly see that the Pune based Bajaj Auto clearly means business when it comes to the EV market. The Chetak offers great fit and finish, comfort features and connectivity, it does remain a compelling choice for an electric scooter buyer.
However the Ather 450X has great technology, software updates along with performance as its selling points.
So what will you opt for? We would love to hear from you!