Ex-Tesla engineer set to launch sporty e-bike in India

Ex-Tesla engineer set to launch sporty e-bike in India

5th Aug 2019 2:26 pm

The Prana will be powered by an electric motor churning out 35Nm of peak torque.

The emerging electric mobility industry in India is set to see another start-up. This time, Coimbatore-based Srivaru Motors has revealed plans to launch a performance electric motorcycle by the festive season.

The start-up is floated by Mohanraj Ramasamy, an engineer who has experience of working at probably the most disruptive start-up in the global EV ecosystem – Tesla. Ramasamy returned to India after residing in California for over 20 years and now aims to launch his own EV business here.

Prana power

The motorcycle, called Prana, is set to be India's first electric performance motorcycle (if it beats the upcoming Ultraviolette EV to a launch) and is expected to be the equivalent of a conventional 300cc bike in terms of ownership costs. Mohanraj also claims that the e-motorcycle will have some "self-healing" components – we believe this has to do with the motor controllers and BMS systems that could self-diagnose and correct small issues, however, this is yet to be confirmed.

The Prana — a registered trademark now — will come powered by an electric motor churning out 35Nm of peak torque, good enough to propel the 160kg motorcycle from 0-60kph in “less than four seconds.” It will have a top speed of over 100kph and a real-world range of 126km from its fixed Li-ion battery, both figures claimed by the company.

The Prana will have four riding modes, including a reverse mode, and will be offered in three variants — Class, Grand and Elite. While the Elite will have a riding range as high as 250km, the Grand will come with a 126km range.

Going by the quoted power figures, the Prana will be fairly quick, but not as much as the Ultraviolette prototype we exclusively experienced a few months ago.

The manufacturing strategy

The motorcycle has been designed and developed in-house at the company's control centre in Coimbatore. Initially, Srivaru Motors will produce up to 30,000 units annually at Coimbatore. The company has ambitious plans to outsource production and scale up to 2,00,000 units within 18 months of launch. Most likely, the outsourced assembly will be done in Chennai and in upper parts of Karnataka, such as Mangalore, to also cater to the Maharashtra belt. The company is eyeing close to 25 retail outlets in these areas in the initial phase, before expanding across the country.

Speaking exclusively to our sister publication Autocar Professional, Mohanraj says: "If you have to build a disruptive technology, you have to do it very differently from the conventional players."

Talking about price, while the founders haven't disclosed any indicative pricing as of yet, they are claiming the lowest TCO (total cost of ownership) in the segment (300cc), even after including a financing option. "We have worked upon five critical areas —styling, range, durability, TCO and service. We are very confident that even if a newcomer company such as Tesla can build products like what customers want, they succeed better than even the most established names," says Mohanraj.

While the Prana will have a 70 percent localisation structure at launch, the company has higher localisation targets on the horizon, if the volumes support it. "Our prime focus right now is to get the product right for the market," remarks Mohanraj.

Srivaru Motors has seen strategic investments into the venture by some serial entrepreneurs. While no VC has invested into it thus far, the company might seek more capital as it sees need for expansion in the future.

Sumantra B Barooah & Mayank Dhingra

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