River Indie e-scooter: your questions answered


Who is River EV?

River EV is another electric two wheeler start-up from Bengaluru, and you probably haven’t heard of them yet because the company didn’t want to build hype until it believed that the time was right. River was founded by two ex-Ultraviolette employees in early 2021, and the Indie electric scooter you see here is their first effort.

To develop a brand new scooter in less than 24 months is extremely quick, but a lot has changed in the EV space in the last few years. While River certainly doesn’t have an early mover advantage, co-founder Aravind Mani tells us they do have the advantage of hindsight as well as a much more mature supply and talent chain available today. River currently has about 250 employees in its Bengaluru-based premises, of which most are in the RnD department. The company plans to have its factory up and running in Hoskote – outside Bengaluru – in the next couple of months and aims to begin deliveries in August.

What is the River Indie?

It’s important to stand out from the crowd if you want to enter the electric scooter game today and the River Indie successfully manages that. This scooter looks like nothing else on our roads, partly thanks to its 14-inch wheels wrapped in chunky 120-section tyres. Then there’s the unique front apron that is dominated by a large twin-LED headlamp cluster, which makes the Indie look larger than most current day scooters. The side panels and large seat (River says it’s the longest and widest in the class) further accentuate this. The riding position is also spacious enough for tall riders, while the 770mm seat height should remain accessible to shorter riders, although the seat is quite wide.

What features does it get?

There are a couple of unique features like the extendable foot pegs for the rider, the built-in crash bars at the sides of the front apron and the removable pannier mounts on the side panels. Both the front and rear lamps look quite striking and the Indie also gets motorcycle style clip-on handlebars. Switchgear (made by Varroc, as are the lights) quality looks very good and the company has kept things simple by using a segmented colour LCD display instead of a TFT touchscreen. There will be a mobile app that will provide the usual Bluetooth and ride telemetry based features and the company says it has no plans to start subscription-based services anytime soon.

The Indie scooters we got to see were pre-production models with most elements like the frame, suspension, brakes and lights already being fully tooled up. Quality and finish levels overall are quite good (although these are not the final production-spec body panels) and small details like the 3D river logos and the bright colour schemes make the Indie stand out in a good way. The company says that the final scooter that will go on sale will mostly be the same, but they may move to a slimmer 110-section front tyre for better agility and the LCD display will have a slightly different layout.

Who is the Indie meant for?

River calls the Indie the ‘SUV of scooters’ and is pitching this as a lifestyle product that also has plenty of utility baked in. For starters, it has the most under seat storage space by far in any scooter on sale today, with its 43 litres comfortably beating the likes of even the 36-litre Ola S1 boot. The River’s boot is much deeper than the Ola’s, but it’s not flat and slopes down towards the front of the scooter. However, the River also gets a lockable 12-litre front cubby and the company will sell you a unique set of side panniers. River says it has a huge number of accessories planned including mobile phone holders, various luggage options among other things.

The Indie is based around a tubular steel frame and it gets a 32mm telescopic front fork as well as twin rear shock absorbers. There are disc brakes at both ends and a combined braking system, as with all EVs at this price point. River has decided to go for a cast aluminium swingarm, which lends the scooter a premium look and feel. The company says the weight should be around the 135kg mark.

How long does it take to charge?

There’s a 4kWh NMC aluminium cased battery pack that resides in the floor, and the company claims that its standard charger can take it from 0-80 percent in five hours. As of now there is no mention of home fast charging, but the company says it will eventually start working on public charging infrastructure. While the chassis, battery pack, BMS and vehicle control unit are all in-house developments, the company is sourcing its motor and motor controller from Mahle.

What’s the range and top speed?

The Indie is powered by a mid-mounted electric motor that sends power to the rear wheel via belt drive. The motor is rated for a peak output of 6.7kW/26Nm and the company claims a top speed of 90kph along with a real world range of around 120km in Eco, the lowest of three riding modes. Eco mode caps the top speed to 55kph, while both Ride and Rush modes will allow you to hit 90kph, but with different levels of acceleration. Effectively, this scooter appears to promise similar performance to an Ather 450X, but with better range.

How much does it cost?

The Indie is priced at Rs 1.25 lakh, ex-showroom Bengaluru, which includes the Fame 2 subsidy and a home charger. That is a very appealing price, which positions it closer to the TVS iQube S and much lower than the likes of the Ather 450X or the Ola S1 Pro. The company also plans to offer a 5 year/50,000km battery warranty. River says it intends to start off slow with three cities in 2023 so that it can streamline its supply and manufacturing processes while also seeing how the scooters perform on the road. After that, it plans to ramp up to 50 cities in 2024 via a conventional dealer network.

There is a lot to like about this new electric scooter and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to ride it in the coming months. Hopefully, River will be able to keep to its promised delivery timelines, unlike pretty much every EV start-up before it.

from Autocar India

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