[The Turning Point] Why this entrepreneur decided to launch an EV startup
Harsh Vardhan Didwania was always concerned about rising pollution, the depletion of non-renewable resources, and increase in the prices of fuel.
The thought of providing affordable mobility for middle-class families led him to start up in the electric vehicles space. In January 2018, he launched Bhubaneswar-based EV startup EeVe along with his father, JP Didwania.
Harsh Vardhan Didwania
“With the current shift from traditional to technology-based smart solutions, electric vehicles are the future,” Harsh Vardhan says.
It took the team more than a year to commercialise the product, and commercial sales began only in October 2019.
“Since then we have already onboarded 52 dealers across the Eastern part of the country, in Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana. We have sold more than 1,300 vehicles in these cities,” the founder says.
The EV startup now offers four products: Xeniaa, 4U, Wind, and Your. Of this, two are in the Li-ion and two is in the lead-acid battery segment, Harsh Vardhan says.
From R&D to launch
Harsh Vardhan began with market research and product development to understand the needs of users and figure out how they could provide the most robust and reliable vehicles suited for Indian roads.
As a part of this, he and his father visited many plants that manufactured electric mobility solutions. “Our initial team of experts, veterans in the automobile manufacturing sector, believed in us and guided us through thick and thin to achieve the best product possible for Indian end users,” Harsh Vardhan tells YourStory.
The initial idea was to have fewer products, but offer maximum service guarantee. Not long after, the team achieved its initial target of onboarding 52 dealers in the first phase successfully.
Navigating the challenges
Harsh Vardhan, who hails from Bhubaneswar, says making people aware of the advantages of using electric vehicles was a huge challenge.
“Acceptance is growing but people are still sceptical. Apart from this, retail funding from banks is quite less. Banks have been publicly promoting use of electric vehicles, but the procedures to avail loans are quite challenging,” he says.
Moreover, the team found it difficult to sustain as it had invested in various production units without funding and was dependent on the regular turnover.
But over the last couple of years, EeVe has successfully overcome those challenges. Its current production capacity is 12,000 vehicles per year; the EVs are being manufactured in an interim facility.
The EV startup plans to inaugurate a fully automated production unit with the capacity to produce 2.5 lakh vehicles per year by the end of FY21. It is also planning to expand sales and service to 250 cities across India by December 2020.
“We will be launching two new two-wheeler vehicles, Forsetti and Tesoro, and two new electric cycles, Bud and Kugel, in 2020,” Harsh Vardhan says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)