This Kolkata startup is electrifying the last mile with affordable options
On his frequent visits to China, industrialist Tushar Choudhary observed how that country had adopted e-mobility solutions.
Back home, the ex-co-founder of publicly listed Himadri Speciality Chemicals saw how the poor struggled with commuting, often carrying goods over large distances on bicycles.
This left Tushar convinced that nothing would work better to solve the last-mile problem in India than the ubiquitous bicycle.
In December 2019, he foundedwith one aim: to build e-cycles that work for the entire Indian population and change the way they commute.
Kolkata-based Motovolt operates in the segment of electric bikes and two-wheelers that run under 25 kmph and consume less than 250W power. The startup aims to cover the untapped market in urban and rural areas across India by providing affordable and sustainable commute options.
“We built Motovolt with the mission to develop and design smart e-mobility solutions that positively impact lives across communities and contribute towards a sustainable future, ” Tushar says.
What does it solve for?
The founder says everyone is aware that e-mobility is the future, but solutions need to be available to the common man for mass adoption in a country like India. The startup offers a range of e-cycles suited for use in urban, sub-urban, and rural settings.
“Motovolt’s affordable e-mobility solutions offer the latest technology and features,” he says.
The startup has launched six products with 45+ variants: Hum (India’s first multi-utility e-cycle), ICE (a foldable e-cycle), Kivo (for the urban commuter), Kivo Easy (another e-cycle), Kivo 24 (with a 24-inch wheel for a comfortable ride), and URBN (a smart e-bike that does not need a licence or registration since the top speed is capped at 25 km per hour).
The e-cycle range is priced between Rs 28,400 and Rs 43,000, while the e-bikes are priced between Rs 49,999 and Rs 55,000.
The founder says that despite 90% Indians using bicycles, two-wheelers, or public transportation for local commuting, e-bikes don’t seem to be an option “because of Indian roads”. He adds that there is a huge gap as far as affordable and sturdy e-bikes are concerned despite the many players trying to tap the electric two-wheeler market.
According to Allied Market Research, the global electric bike market is projected to reach $118.66 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 10.5% from 2020 to 2030.
Tushar says URBN is a next-gen smart e-bike designed for the Indian market.
“The zero-emissions e-bike represents the aspirations and confidence of the modern Indian youth. The fact that it doesn’t require any licence/registration and comes with a host of features makes it the ideal choice for today’s generation,” Tushar says.
“We are witnessing high double-digit growth in our business. So, we definitely see adoption
happening. As this is a new category, awareness is still limited and therefore the overall growth is not visible in all areas."
Most customers have one question when thinking of choosing an EV: ‘How will I charge it?’
Motovolt has addressed this issue by providing removable batteries that are easy to charge “anywhere and anytime”.
The Motovolt app offers a host of user-friendly features such as location tracking, updates on system health, performance monitoring of battery, ride details, air updates (carbon dioxide emission saved, fuel consumption saved), roadside assistance, and more. It also gives a calculation of cost recovered and predictive analysis (in case of a functional issue).
The e-cycles offer four riding modes: standard pedal, throttle, pedal assist, and cruise mode. In the cruise mode, rider can set a speed of their preference and ride without any effort to throttle or pedal.
The indigenously made battery pack/battery management system is made keeping Indian roads in mind.
The founder and core team bring with them an in-depth knowledge about the lithium-ion industry (as Himadri Chemicals is a raw material provider for this industry) and have designed a “one-of-its-kind battery”.
The batteries are made at a battery assembly and testing lab at the Taratala Plant in Kolkata and undergo multiple rounds of tests to ensure safety and optimum performance. The company has also set up a design and development centre in Bangalore.
“Technology remains our top priority. The mission of Motovolt Mobility is to provide smart, technologically advanced, sustainable mobility solutions for every segment of society,” Tushar says.
Business model and funding
Motovolt uses the online and offline sales models along with a B2B sales presence.
Currently, it has 100+ physical touchpoints in the form of exclusive dealer stores and multi-brand outlets. The startup also uses its own ecommerce platform and platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and CSC Grameen E-Store to make its products available to a wider customer base.
The startup, which began operations in early 2020, has sold 10,000 e-cycles so far in urban and rural areas. E-bike bookings have started recently.
Motovolt has raised Rs 16 crore in a pre-Series A round from Dubai-based family office Wami Capital, Vikrampati Singhania of JK Family, and others.
By the end of financial year 22-23, it plans to increase its distribution presence from 100+ physical touchpoints to more than 250. It also plans to launch e-scooters soon.
(This story is updated to correct factual errors as per the company's inputs.)
Edited by Teja Lele