When it comes to electric vehicles in the country, the last six months have seen announcements and pull backs that would make put the stop and go traffic in any metro to shame. From Union Minister Nitin Gadkari announcing that by 2030, they don’t want to see diesel and Petrol behicles sold in the country, to another senior minister, Mr Piyush Goyal declaring the same intent at an industry grouping, it looked like India had suddenly moved its electric dreams to a higher gear.
However, reality stuck soon enough, with the last missive from the ministry’s concerned denying that any such ‘policy’ was approved or in the works. However, the announcements certainly achieved a purpose, of shaking up the auto industry to the new reality of an aware government that has its eye on the sector, and how to make it change faster. E-vehicles of course are a vital part of every country’s plans to go green. While China is the global leader in numbers, India has a lot of catching up to do. The good news is that with an established auto components manufacturing ecosystem, this is one area where a strong will can find a way, fast with the right support.
The increasing participation of corporates, investors and start-ups in the electric mobility drive is growing exponentially by the day now. The first tender from the EESL was duly won by Tata Motors, with Mahindra getting in an L2 bid for a 30% share of electric vehicles. Deliveries too have started already.
A big issue with all this has been the obsession with 4 wheelers. When you consider the reality, less than 5% of the population owns a car. More an 11% own a two wheeler though. So no prizes for guessing what could have a potentially larger inpact on a larger number of people. With ‘innovations like swappable batteries also making their debut, the scenario for two wheelers in fact looks a lot more promising right now.
Here we take a look at a few Indian start-ups which are developing and implementing what has been termed as the future of transportation, Electric Two Wheelers
Backed by seed funding from Sachin and Binny Bansal, the founders of Flipkart, this Bangalore based start-up is developing India’s first truly smart and connected electric scooter which has forced us to draw comparisons with Tesla vehicles, with its touch screen dashboard and integrated cloud-based data using a 3G sim card.
The brainchild of IIT graduates Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain, this hardware start-up founded in 2013 first came into the spotlight for its in-house breakthrough Lithium-ion battery pack design. And then again in December last year when during their series B funding round they bagged a deal with Hero MotoCorp worth at least $31 million (205 crores) for a 26-30% stake in the company. This investment brought their total funding’s to a massive $45 million after being initially supported by Tiger Global Management (Lead investor of Flipkart).
With plans in place to invest close to $10 million in its manufacturing facility, which after a one year delay, is set to begin in 2019. The company refused to comment on the price range of their smart scooter or the tentative dates for its distribution. “There are very important updates expected from Ather in the next couple of months where we will have further updates to share as well,” said the company representative.
Founded in 2007 by Hemalatha Annamalai, Ampere Vehicles has managed to carve a niche for themselves in the nascent Indian electric vehicle industry as innovative and indigenous technology creators. Based out of Coimbatore the outreach of the company is currently limited to southern states, with plans in place to enter new markets and states and expand their network.
Ampere has raised $1.2 million over four funding rounds and backing from Ratan Tata and Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys) for an undisclosed amount. The company prides itself on achieving almost complete Indigenisation by developing all the key components in-house by the R&D team. Hemalatha has stated that the company has reinvested a major portion of its income in R&D efforts. The department, considered the backbone of the company claims to be the first start-up in India to make their own chargers.
The company has largely benefited from the public statement released by the government stating its ambition of putting seven million electric vehicles every year on the road by 2020. Currently at 60,000 units per day from its two manufacturing sites the company is planning to open new sites and even looking at a completely women operated factory in the near future.
One of the newest players in this nascent industry, this Bangalore based start-up has made an instant impact on the industry with its sleek design and implementation of rechargeable and easily replaceable battery packs. The company has stated that its first two wheeler the ‘Mantis bike’ will aim to match the performances of any high end bike on the market.
Prajwal Sabnis the co-founder and director of Orxa told Iamrenew, “We are constantly on motorcycles, and we feel the effects of pollution on a regular basis. We decided to at least make an effort to stop polluting from our end. But we didn’t find any electric motorcycles in India that were interesting. So we decided to build something compelling instead.”
The company is working to have their first vehicles on road by 2019 and the initial launch would be exclusive to Bangalore. The company refused to comment on the prices of the vehicles and their future expansion plans.
“We believe that a car for everyone is not a good solution for a population dense country like India. We believe that ensuring pollution free, clean breathable air must take priority over economics. And we believe that only making electric vehicles for bottom of the pyramid requirements will not drive electrification of transport efficiently.” Prajwal said.
Other start-ups to look out for, include Emflux motors which is delving into the smart scooter niche and Ultraviolette which now is only the second Indian start-up to get an official funding from a two wheeler conglomerate TVS. Established companies like Bajaj (Urbanite) and Honda are also getting involved in electric two wheelers with their products in line for a 2019 release.
Published on: Mar 19, 2018