Electric bikes are expensive; they don’t have good range, power, speed, or pickup; they take long to charge - these and many such ideas surround electric vehicles, bikes in particular, today. Then there is also the belief that bringing EVs to the same mass-market level as fuel-powered bikes is time consuming.
To change this very mindset, and with the aim to make EV two-wheelers popular, Parveen Kharb and Vijay Chandrakant started Twenty Two Motors. Farhan Shabbir later joined as co-founder. Twenty Two Motors came into being in 2016, and today offers a smart and technology-driven electric scooter. Says Parveen,
“We at Twenty Two Motors decided to find a solution that not only breaks perception, but also addresses all the concerns that stop an EV from becoming a mainstream choice for a regular commuter globally.”
Understanding the gaps in the market
Parveen says regular e-scooters currently available in the market are fragile, and lack adequate speed and power. And the reason for the compromised vehicle is the under-evolved battery technology, which has low storage capacity.
“If one tries to address this with available resources and technology, the price becomes too high, which makes the product unaffordable for a common commuter,” says Parveen.
With this problem statement in mind, Twenty Two Motors decided to build its smart scooter Flow, which is enabled by an AI and IoT platform. It claims to have successfully developed a core technology platform with a lithium-ion battery pack, battery management system (BMS), and smart electronics.
What does the scooter have?
The smart scooter is IoT-compliant, with devices like GPS, GPRS that make it virtually theft-proof. The estimated range on a single charge is 60-100 km depending on the driving speed. There is also a smart app connected to the scooter, and offers preemptive maintenance, where a user can receive alerts indicating the exact status of various components to enable optimisation of use, or replace or repair components in good time.
“With 60 sensors, Flow’s onboard computer can register riding style, and notifies the rider on the app if it senses someone new riding it. The scooter feeds the data via machine-to-machine chips to its cloud servers. This data includes speed, acceleration, distance covered, condition of the battery and other critical components,” says Parveen.
The data from these IoT devices is decoded by servers using data mining and artificial intelligence techniques to determine users' ride behaviour. End users connect to the scooter via the mobile app, which can also control access to the scooter remotely. With scooter information available on the cloud, the troubleshooting and other services can be managed automatically.
The founders and their market
The reason it was relatively easy for trio to start up in the mobility space was their background. Parveen has worked for brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Toyota, and Suzuki, and was the Managing Director of QCD Engineering India Pvt Ltd.
Vijay has more than 15 years of experience in technology, operations and strategy domains, and was also involved in Aadhaar authentication and Aadhaar data handling. Farhan has worked for automobile companies such as Honda, Yamaha, and Harley Davidson India where he last served as director.
The EV space is fast growing and evolving. In the past few months, Vogo, ONN Bikes and Ola have unveiled their plans of entering the EV space. In fact, Ola recently raised Rs 400 crore from its early investors Matrix Partners and Tiger Global for its new entity - Ola Electric. Also, Tork Motorcycles, which develops electric motorcycles, raised undisclosed angel funding from a host of investors including Ola Co-founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, and CoCubes Co-founder and CEO Harpreet Grover.
Last year, Bengaluru-based Ather Energy launched two electric scooters – the S340 and S450 – along with the AtherGrid, an electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The scooters are priced at Rs 1.1 lakh and Rs 1.2 lakh, respectively.
On the other side, customers too are increasingly putting their faith in EVs. The online Ather community reveals some owners have taken their electric scooters long distance – with one riding from Bengaluru to Tirupati, a distance of 254 km.
The platform and tie-ups
“With Flow, a person will be able to ride without any worry of refueling time and reach of energy stations on the go by paying a fraction of the energy cost he is used to paying for an ICE (internal combustion engine). This will redefine the way people commute in India,” says Praveen.
Recently, Twenty Two Motors tied up with KYMCO India, which makes sports motorbikes. KYMCO holds a 25 percent stake in Twenty Two Motors, and invested $15 million, with a plan to invest another $50 million in the next three years.
Earlier this year, the company had raised Rs 10.2 crore from Ishwar Singh, Chief Executive of Haryana Group of Industries.
Twenty Two Motors plans to sell 50,000 vehicles by 2020, and over 2 lakh vehicles in the next three years, for which they already have a manufacturing unit in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan. The team plans to expand the same soon to be able to manufacture close to 50,000 vehicles.
With the current collaboration with KYMCO, the team is looking at an upgrade of Flow. It is also working with Kymco with new technology. With this collaboration, the scooters will be in the market by the end of the year, they also intend to open Twenty Two KYMCO experience stores soon.
“Initially, Flow will be available in Delhi-NCR besides a few more cities such as Bengaluru and Pune, and we shall also be installing around 100 charging stations in each town we go to,” says Parveen.