The 14th Auto Expo kicked off with a majestic display of concept models, racing machines, hybrids and much more. The spotlight however shone bright on Electric Vehicles (EV) in all major segments. With the Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari pushing for a sustainable and eco-friendly transformation of the country, India envisages a complete shift from a conventional, fuel-based model to EVs by 2030.
Something which distinctly caught my attention was that aside from the usual suspects of sedans and SUVs on display, which are pretty much expected categories in the auto sector both domestic and international...there was an impressive range of mass market and high performance 2-wheelers. The one machine which really stood out magnificently amongst others was Emflux One – an electric superbike, Made in India by Emflux Motors.
“Emflux One wants to shatter the perception of EV as a boring, tame, low-performance, and flimsy machine”, says Varun Mittal, CEO and Co-Founder. Emflux One promises a top speed of 200 Kmph on full charge with a similar quanta of range. Its acceleration is an eye-watering 0-100 Kmph in 3 seconds. Since charging remains a primary concern for electric vehicles in India, the company plans to install 1,000 high-speed charging units capable of juicing up the bikes upto 80% of their battery capacity in less than 36 minutes! Moreover, the company aspires to translate tech beyond hardware by integrating real-time diagnostics, safety alerts, drive modes and cross-bike connectivity in its prop software platform accessible to the rider.
The super loaded machine, to be priced at around INR6L-INR11L (subject to add-ons), guarantees efficient battery to wheel power utilization and a pure riding experience. It additionally claims to achieve a significant drop in operational costs and most importantly a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions.
The machine is a limited edition offering, with only about 200 units expected to hit the domestic market from October 2018 onwards and 300 units planned for exports. The team is however working towards a mass-market model with similar specifications.
Emflux One is developed by a team of 25 led by Varun, an alumnus of IIT Delhi and ESCP Europe with previous work experience at two $100+ million start-ups, African e-commerce player Jumia & Indian hyperlocal auto aggregator Jugnoo. He was joined by his co-founders – chief designer Vinay Raj Somashekhar, former designer at TVS Motors and head of operations Ankit Khatry, former launch manager at Jugnoo.
The Bengaluru-based company takes much pride in being one of the pioneers to have set up an indigenous development base – including tech for motor, controllers, battery management system, and charging station. Therefore, unlike other domestic counterparts, which greatly depend on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to procure most of their parts, Emflux boasts of a in-house ecosystem, equipped with an advanced Research and Development capability and a cutting-edge mechanical and aesthetic design. In future, they seek to simultaneously cater to the demands of both OEMs and the individual customers.
“Emflux was founded with the mission to empower 10 million electric two-wheelers in India by 2027 with our two-pronged market focus - firstly build brand and loyalty by producing high-performance electric motorcycle and secondly create an ecosystem of the partner mass market two-wheeler manufacturers to whom we will become the technology supplier”, says Varun Mittal.
According to industry reports, the demand for premium motorcycles (>250cc) in India has demonstrated a strong annual growth of 37% over last 10 years, expected to go up to 54% in the next five. Considering it is the fastest and most profitable segment in 2-wheelers at large, its transition to electric is only natural.
Challenges For Electric Vehicles in India
An elementary problem which arises when dealing with EVs is the non-availability of charging infrastructure in India. While there are ad-hoc stations e.g. in select cities such as Nagpur and Mumbai, the system lacks a structured, pan-India setup. To add to this, India’s electricity regulator does not permit private parties to re-sell electricity without a distribution license or a public-private partnership with state utilities. Such rules need to be amended to ensure players such as Emflux can create the backend to support their riders' charging requirements or eventually diversify into provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure to vehicles manufactured by third parties. With an improvement in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in India, it is likely that more players shall enter this segment.
Government must ensure that the right ecosystem is set up to support penetration and sustenance of EVs in India, including allowing private companies to set up electric vehicle charging infrastructure in India and re-sell electricity. As evidenced by this year's Expo, more specifically through start-ups like Emflux, entrepreneurs are hungry and innovative enough to bring exciting products to the market. With such extraneous factors in check, the country is set for an Electric Revolution.