Ather 340 vs Honda Activa 5G DLX: Running Cost Analysis

Modified On Mar 20, 2019 By Praveen M. for Ather 340

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We pit the country’s newest electric scooter against the best-selling petrol scooter, the Activa 5G, to see which one’s cheaper in the long run, at least theoretically

Ather Energy’s debut product, the 340, is on the cusp of revolutionising electric mobility in India with its features and pricing. Their subscription scheme seems to be foolproof and very alluring when it comes to ease of ownership. Now, only one question remains: Does it make more economic sense over a conventional scooter for heavy urban use?

And the contender to go up against the Ather? Well, that’s going to be the best selling conventional scooter in the country, the people’s champion - the Honda Activa 5G.

The on-road price of the Honda Activa 5G DLX variant is Rs 66,378. For the sake of this comparison, we’re assuming that your scooter is your only (or at least primary) means of getting around, and that leads into our second assumption: a total commute distance of 40km every day. This number might seem quite high for smaller towns, but in most big cities and especially in a metro city like Bengaluru, it’s a fairly realistic assumption. And of course, we’ve chosen Bengaluru as a target use case as the Ather is only available there for now.

Distance travelled in a year = 40 km per day x 6 days a week x 52 weeks = 12,480km

Mileage in city = 58kmpl (as tested by ZigWheels)

Total fuel consumed in a year = 12,480km / 58 = 215 litres

Approximate cost of fuel per litre in Bengaluru = Rs 80

Rough estimate of fuel expenditure in a year = 215 x 80 = Rs 17,200

The maintenance cost per free service for the Activa is approximately Rs 350 (the consumables such as oil are charged, just the labour is free). There are 4 free services, which last a year. In the fourth service, Honda dealers recommend a compulsory replacement of the air filter and spark plug, which amounts to Rs 407.

Rs 350 per service, hence 350x4 = Rs 1,400

Hence, at the end of the year, the scooter’s maintenance will cost you (1,400 + 407 = 1,807) Rs 1,807 in the first year. Let’s keep a buffer of Rs 1,000 in case there’s any non-crucial part, not covered under warranty, that needs to be replaced. Thus the maintenance cost now for the whole year stands at Rs 2,807 (which is still fairly on the conservative side).

Total running costs of the Activa for the first year = 17,200 + 2,807 = around Rs 20,000.

The services are paid for the second year at Rs 720 per service. This in turn amounts to (720x4) Rs 2,880 if there are no problems with the scooter.

The Ather 340 costs Rs 1,09,750, on-road, Bengaluru. Now, if you take the aforementioned running and maintenance costs into account, the price difference between the Ather and the Activa amounts to around Rs. 23,300 for the first year (you’ll have spent approximately Rs 86,300 in the first year for the Activa as opposed to Rs 1,09,750 for the Ather).

In the second year, the running cost of the Activa is bound to be at least marginally greater than the amount that cost in the first year, possibly due to rising fuel prices, material costs, etc. We’ll add another Rs 1,000 over the second year service costs in case there’s any part to be replaced. Thus, the maintenance cost would be Rs 3,880. Let’s keep the petrol cost the same as last year’s. So in total, at the end of two years of use, you’ll have spent a total of Rs 1,07,465 to buy and run the Activa.

On the other hand, you’d be spending only Rs 9,900 (subscription fee) for the Ather in the second year, which is essentially the entire running cost. So once you add that to how much you spent on the 340 in the first year, you get Rs 1,19,662 - the total amount you’ve spent at the end of two years.

For the third year, let’s assume a 10 per cent increase in Ather’s subscription cost, a 10 per cent hike in service cost of the Activa, and a Rs 2 increase in petrol cost. To give you a better picture, here’s everything summarised in a table:

Year 1
Particulars Honda Activa 5G DLX Ather 340
Buying cost in Rs 66,378 1,09,750
Subscription cost (year 1) in Rs NA 0
Fuel cost (year 1) in Rs 17,200 0
Service cost (year 1) in Rs 2,807 0
Total amount spent by the end of 1st year Rs 86,385 Rs 1,09,750
Year 2
Particulars Honda Activa 5G DLX Ather 340
Subscription cost (year 2) in Rs NA 9,912
Fuel cost (year 2) in Rs 17,200 0
Service cost (year 2) in Rs 3,880 0
Total amount spend by the end of 2nd year Rs 1,07,465 Rs 1,19,662
Year 3
Particulars Honda Activa 5G DLX Ather 340
Subscription cost in Rs (year 3) +10% NA 10,903
Fuel cost in Rs (year 3) + Rs 2 17,630 0
Service cost in Rs (year 3) + 10% 4,268 0
Total amount spent by the end of 3rd year Rs 1,29,363 Rs 1,30,565

The above calculations reveal that only by the end of third year, you’ll be just about breaking even with the Ather. Here’s where things get even more interesting, and difficult to judge objectively, at least on paper. Ather gives you a three year/unlimited km warranty on the 340’s battery, with an assurance that it’ll maintain at least 70 per cent of its capacity by the end of that period. Now of course, that doesn’t mean the battery will HAVE to be replaced by the end of three years. And through OTA software updates, it’s very likely Ather will be further able to optimise battery usage, so even with diminished capacity, the range might not actually go down. It’s quite possible that the battery itself would last you a year or two post that as well.

That said, if and when it does come to replacing the battery, you’re looking at a pretty hefty expense (which Ather hasn’t quoted a figure about yet). But it suffices to say that it’ll be multiple times that of what it would cost you to overhaul an Activa’s engine.

But there are many arguments to be made for the Ather too, which go beyond just running costs. With the Ather, you get bigger boot space, which means better utility. Plus, you also get standalone navigation, a smart touchscreen and over-the-air updates, all of which considerably improves the ownership experience. Additionally, there are less chances of things going wrong with the Ather because as an electric scooter, it has fewer moving parts. Other intangible benefits include a considerable reduction in your carbon footprint, which is actually one of the reasons why the government is pushing so hard for electric vehicles.

So, does that mean it doesn’t make sense to buy an Ather 340 over an Activa 5G? If you’re looking at purely running costs and nothing else, then you might be better off sticking to good old internal combustion. While the expenditure for both the scooters are more or less the same for the first three years, the Ather 340 in fact runs short of being the perfect replacement to a mass-market scooter in the long term, at least for most regular commuters.

Note: The images of the Ather 450 have been used to represent the Ather 340, which is identical to the 450, except for the green rim tapes.

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