Indian car startups Ahead of the EV game

By posted on May 16, 2020 4:22PM

In 2010, when Raja Gayam turned into changing his father’s bus body building unit in Hyderabad into an autorickshaw manufacturing plant, he also decided to set up Gayam Motor Works (GMW) to manufacture electrically powered auto rickshaws. His brother Rahul, who joined him in 2013, changed into then running in the easy energy area within the US. They desired to accelerate the sector’s transition in the direction of smart and sustainable mobility.

This become way before the Indian government introduced its coverage to incentivize electric car (EV) consumers in 2015 and Vision 2030—its plan to turn India a hundred percentage electric by means of that 12 months. The Gayam brothers sensed a huge marketplace in India, the world’s 1/3 biggest three-wheeler manufacturer and exporter, and got down to create a product and provider that could conquer the substantial boundaries of the EV surroundings: Lack of charging infrastructure, lengthy charging time, limited battery variety and unreliable strength grids.

“Gayam Motor Works is the manufacturer of India’s first electric 3-wheelers powered by using lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries with a swapping system (Pune-based Kinetic Green Energy and Power Solutions Limited released its e-rickshaws, Kinetic Safar, with Li-ion batteries handiest last year) and an e-cycle known as LIMITLESS,” says Sri Harsha Bavirisetty, chief operations officer at GMW. Using imported Li-ion batteries, it has developed proprietary Li-ion battery generation and smart Battery Management Systems (BMS) for e-mobility and charging factors, he adds. Eight years on, the corporation exports its e-autorickshaws and e-cycles to 15 countries, such as the United States and markets in Africa, Asia, Central America, and Europe, aside from promoting them at domestic.


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The company mostly caters to the last-mile connectivity phase. For its e-automobiles, it has clients like BigBasket, Amazon India, and Flipkart’s logistics arm e-kart (pilot section in Hyderabad), while for its e-cycles, it has customers like UberEats in Singapore, Hong Kong, and San Francisco, as well as Swiggy (pilot phase in Bengaluru) in India.

“Charging batteries at stations and swapping batteries inside mins in place of looking ahead to them to price for hours feels like a tremendous manner to defeat range anxiety. In two to a few mins, a driver can drop off his discharged battery and feature a one hundred ten km range to get returned on the street,” says Bavirisetty, adding that when you consider that they provider B2B logistics, they use organisation warehouses, in which the automobiles are loaded and unloaded, as charging factors and battery swapping bunkers.

GMW—in which Raja, together with his automobile production expertise, is CEO and Rahul, along with his technical background in EVs, is CTO—is now planning to construct infrastructure for the retail market after a $15 million Series A investment round. It is also making plans to get into motorbike-sharing at accommodations, resident regions, ports regions and IT parks and is in talks with Microsoft, Adani, and Art of Living. The Asian Development Bank is likewise doing a technical assessment with them to installation a battery-swapping mechanism in Afghanistan.

Whether it’s e-commerce, fintech, trip-hailing or meals transport, the largest disruptions within the ultimate decade in the Indian marketplace had been pushed by means of startups. The same appears to be the case with the auto enterprise.

Even as most legacy carmakers—barring Mahindra—are busy chalking out their EV plans, numerous Indian startups are taking the lead in creating an EV atmosphere within u . S. A.

“In every enterprise, traditional gamers have vested pursuits in retaining repute quo. They have invested billions of greenbacks over several decades in studies and improvement (R&D). It’s hard to simply surrender on the fossil fuel legacy and diversify assets, plans and manufacturing into a nascent space,” says Sanjay Puri, founder, AutoNebula, a Pune-based totally connected mobility accelerator. It is that this latency that provides startups the headspace to dive into a brand new marketplace. “Many innovative leaders are leaving their agencies to begin their very own ventures inside the EV area—a trend that a US-based [then] startup Tesla made mainstream,” he provides.

Take Gurugram-based Okinawa Autotech, for instance, which commenced in 2015 with the goal of presenting an EV that blended energy, range, protection and environmental sustainability. Since its release in January 2017, Okinawa has bought 5,000 gadgets of the Ridge, its first e-scooter. In December final 12 months, the Ridge was accompanied by using the longer-variety and better-pinnacle speed Praise. “We have acquired 2,000 bookings to this point and assume to sell 25,000 units in 2018,” says Jeetender Sharma, founder and coping with the director, Okinawa. The scooter is powered via valve-regulated lead-acid batteries, and the Praise gets a Li-ion battery choice quickly.

Okinawa has a manufacturing facility in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, which churns out 300 units in keeping with shift, making 600 gadgets in an afternoon. The 40,000 square toes facility changed into started with an funding of ₹30 crore and has an annual potential of one.Eight lakh gadgets. “We plan to invest ₹250 crore over two years within the plant and manufacturing approaches, R&D, new product development and sales and marketing for provider enlargement,” says Sharma. Okinawa may also soon set up a 2d plant to introduce “a diffusion of automobiles”.

Smartphones on wheels
Gurugram-based totally 22Motors and Bengaluru-primarily based Ather Energy are not preventing at an e-scooter but going further—they may be in the race to release India’s first clever scooter. Li-ion batteries, SIM card, Google Maps, GSM, touchscreen, apps, notifications, clever functions, Artificial Intelligence, user profiles, security functions—the features of the electric scooters in improvement via these two homegrown startups sound less like motors and greater like smartphones. Both the e-scooters will use statistics accrued from a couple of sensors on almost every part of the linked automobile to find out about the rider’s riding method and permit the proprietors to customize their automobiles.

“EVs lend themselves to offer use cases in intelligent related mobility. With all the facts from the vehicles, records scientists can help customize the e-scooter and each ride for the rider,” says Tarun Mehta, co-founder, and CEO, Ather Energy. The company became installation by using IIT-Madras alumni Mehta and Swapnil Jain, co-founder and CTO, in 2013, and they were perfecting their clever and related S340 for the remaining four years. “Matching the performance of current petrol scooters become our primary consciousness; we are able to depend on altruism by me for sales,” says Mehta. The S340 might be linked to the cloud and “will preserve learning and improving with utilization”, he provides.

Ather plans to install an assembly line in Bengaluru to make its very own battery packs with a view to cater to the needs of its automobile flawlessly. “We constructed the primary one three years ago. We subsequently sense accurate about its overall performance and quality,” says Mehta. The S340 is currently strolling production rounds although a release date statement remains some time away.


Parveen Kharb, co-founder, and CEO, and Farhaan Shabbir, co-founder, and president, 22Motors, say they set up the company in 2016 as a technology organization and no longer just an automobile producer, to increase electrically powered mobility for the 22nd century. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel through making plastics and metal. A scooter has to go from factor A to B; doing that smartly is our process,” says Kharb. The related, clever e-scooter FLOW will launch at the Delhi Auto Expo this month at a predicted rate of ₹sixty five,000-70,000 (ex-showroom charge) and deliveries are anticipated to start in May-June. At a charge factor handiest barely better than the petrol-gas two-wheeler marketplace chief Honda Activa regardless of the expensive Li-ion battery, and numerous clever features like geofencing, cruise manage, and drag mode, which permits the scooter to ‘walk’ along the rider, reverse and related mobility, it is likely to turn heads.


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