EghtesadOnline: Tehran Municipality’s foot-dragging has delayed the expansion of electric motorcycles in the metropolis, a deputy interior minister said.
Mehdi Jamalinejad added that while the ministry-affiliated Iran's Municipalities and Village Administrators lined up finance for TM last year to buy 40,000 e-bikes from domestic suppliers, the municipal officials’ inaction scuttled the plan, Mehr News Agency reported.
“TM has put maximum efforts in providing electric buses for the public transportation network, which is vital for the capital since the current fleet is old and dysfunctional. However, efforts to promote the use of e-bikes can be pursued simultaneously on a smaller scale, especially since a line of credit has been opened for it,” he said.
Jamalinejad said US sanctions have hindered Iran’s international commercial ties, which have consequently impeded urban development projects.
“Wasting such opportunities for curbing air pollution and fuel consumption in a crowded city like Tehran is unwise,” he said.
Yousef Hojjat, the head of TM’s Transportation and Traffic Organization, told reporters that there is no hope for the promotion of e-bike mobility in the short run.
“A fossil-fuel motorcycle is cheaper than an electric bike, plus the latter is banned from intercity travels,” he said, adding that the long recharge time and low engine power discourage the public from using e-bikes.
The TM official said providing the public with incentive to use e-bikes requires massive investment, but with small financial inputs, the TM’s moves do not exceed pilot projects and symbolic measures.
Loans for Buying e-Bikes
The push to promote electric motorcycles started almost a year ago, when Tehran Municipality announced that with the help of the state-backed Omid Entrepreneurship Fund, it would extend cheap loans to e-bike buyers, which would cover 80% of the vehicle's price.
Hojjati said the fund will extend loans worth 12.5 billion rials ($48,000) to owners of carbureted motorcycles, who are willing to replace their vehicles with a new, efficient and ecofriendly one.
However, with the national currency losing a huge share of its value against the greenback during the past year and the tripling of prices, the loan plan came to a standstill.
The price of electric motorcycles, which was about 100 million rials ($384) last March, has hiked over the past year. An ordinary e-bike was sold on Saturday for 170 million-1.2 billion rials ($653-4,610).
Replacing carbureted two-wheelers with electric motorcycles is one of the initiatives pursued by Iranian urban managers, as providing eco-friendly and more efficient transportation has become a real challenge in view of the growing urban population and soaring demand.
In line with this agenda, MAPNA Group unveiled a new electric motorcycle in late December 2020.
Abbas Aliabadi, the company’s CEO, explained that the bike is equipped with an in-wheel drive engine and an electric vehicle drive system that directly powers the wheels.
“The motorcycle has an air-cooling generator system and a 72-volt battery, which increase the motorcycle’s top speed to 70 km/h,” he said, adding that the company is also working on boosting the bike’s batteries.
“MAPNA is starting a promising collaboration with local auto producers to expand the production of electric bikes,” he said.
The company has also stepped in to set up infrastructures for producing electric four- and two-wheelers in the country, including charger stations.
Aliabadi said the company set up Iran’s first EV charging station at Tehran’s Milad Tower in May 2019.
Built over 700 square meters, the station includes a 43-kilovolt alternating current charger, plus a fast charger working under the Chademo Protocol, a trade name of a quick charging method for electric vehicles, which suits Japanese and South Korean EVs such as Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
The station also includes a 4.7-kv slow charger and a 5.5-kv charger that can be used by electric motorcycles.
Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province was the second city to house an electric charging station after Tehran.
The company is to set up electric vehicle charging stations in all Iranian provinces by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2021).
Negotiations Over Production
Bahman Zia-Moqaddam, secretary of Iran's Motorcycle Association, says most e-bikes made in Iran are produced from imported CKD units.
According to the official, the biggest challenge hampering the local production of e-bikes is a battery’s short life and the vehicle’s higher price compared to gasoline motorcycles.
Calling on the government to extend cooperation and support, Zia-Moqaddam said, “If the state were to cover a part of the expenses, the general public’s willingness to use clean vehicles will increase.”
In order to encourage policymakers to support the production of e-bikes, Amir Bayat, an official with Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, earlier met the parliamentary faction for knowledge-based economy and officials from the National Innovation Fund.
Bayat emphasized the necessity of promoting the culture of using environment-friendly vehicles and called on related entities to help streamline the production of electronic vehicles.