These electric bike startups are spearheading India's switch to clean energy
Electric bikes are slowly going mainstream in India.
A recent study indicated that around 87 percent of the country’s population who own a vehicle were willing to switch to EVs. And not just because EVs are cost-effective, but also due to the lower carbon emissions.
This trend toward EVs is further backed by the creation of an entire ecosystem of cleantech startups which are investing in a clean energy future through innovations in swappable batteries, charging grids, energy storage, and energy management.
With some of India’s biggest two-wheeler manufacturers getting serious about electric and a host of startups developing a range of vehicles, the Indian consumer could well be spoilt for choice in the next couple of years.
The Mantis. Image: Orxa Energies
Here’s a quick look at the six startups who are spearheading the adoption of EV bikes in India.
Founded by IIT-Madras alumni Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain in 2013, Ather Energy manufactures electric scooters. High capacity for range, high power output for quick acceleration and speed, a long life and fast charging abilities are some of the features that they wanted in an EV, and since no existing models had the best of these, the duo decided to just build one on their own.
Ather 340 and Ather 450 are priced at Rs 1.1 lakh and Rs 1.3 lakh, respectively. While the 340 model has a top speed of 70 kmph, the more advanced 450 model can travel at up to 80 kmph. Ather Energy has so far raised $59 million over four rounds of funding from the likes of Tiger Global and Indian two-wheeler giant Hero Motocorp for development, production, testing and launch of the vehicle. Ather Energy also created charging stations called AtherGrid.
Founded in 2009 by Kapil Shelke, Tork is one of the earliest EV startups in India. For their first model T6X, the team packed in a host of features including cloud connectivity, integrated GPS, and in-built navigation capabilities, making it the first smart motorcycle. Aimed at creating practical electric mobility solutions in India, Tork, previously a motorcycle racing firm, draws heavily from its past experiences.
In the past, the firm has proved its mettle on international circuits by finishing third at the prestigious Mecca of Electric Racing, The Isle of Man TT, and has also won the world's premier electric motorsport race series TTXGP.
In February 2018, auto component maker Bharat Forge announced it was a 45 percent stake in Tork for Rs 30 crore.
A severe motorcycle accident turned out to be a twist of fate for IIT Delhi alumnus Varun Mittal. It was then that he decided to pursue his dream of building performance motorcycles. Along with co-founders Ankit Khatry and Vinay Raj Somashekar, Varun started Emflux.
The Bengaluru-based company builds electric superbikes as well as patented technology that can be used by other automobile manufacturers. Its electric superbike, Emflux ONE is best described as having the proportions and aggression of a superbike but with the calm and quiet of an electric vehicle.
The sports bike, powered by a lithium-ion battery, can reportedly go from zero to 100 kmph in under 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 170 kmph. A limited edition of 199 bikes is due to be launched in March 2019, priced at Rs 5-6 lakh.
Emflux raised over $500,000 in angel funding so far.
An electric vehicle company backed by TVS Motor, Ultraviolette Automotive was founded by Niraj Rajmohan and Narayan Subramaniam in December 2014. Although a green mobility startup, Ultraviolette looks beyond the concept of clean fuel.
The startup wants to combine style, speed, aspiration and luxury into one mean machine. And it won’t be long before the bike hits the market. Ultraviolette is looking to launch a 200-250cc electric bike capable of reaching a top speed of 150kmph by the end of this year.
Up-front costs, range, charge time, and charging infrastructure – these are some of the top concerns with EVs. Bengaluru-based husband-wife duo Ranjita Ravi and Prajwal Sabnis is all set to address these challenges with their latest venture Orxa Energies.
The company is building an electric superbike with swappable batteries. And while naysayers may say that it’s difficult to build an electric performance bike from India, the duo has already got the likes of Airbus taking them – and their product - seriously.
The latest entrant in the electric bike segment is Bengaluru-based bike-sharing solution platform Yulu, which recently launched its electric scooter, Yulu Miracle. A dockless, lithium battery-powered scooter, it is meant for short-distance commute for one person.
Amit Gupta, also the Co-founder of adtech ‘unicorn’ InMobi, launched Yulu with RK Misra, Naveen Dachuri and Hemant Gupta in 2017, calls these scooters ‘micro-mobility vehicles’. These MMVs weigh 40 kg, run at 25kmph, and can traverse 70 km in one charge. There is no helmet or number plate requirement for these EVs.