If you are also preparing to buy a two-wheeler, then you must read this news. Bengaluru-based Suhas Rajkumar’s startup is going to launch ‘Made in India’ e-scooters soon.
Suhas Rajkumar, Founder and CEO, Simple Energy, is barely a few months away from launching his new Electric Scooters. According to Suhas, these Electric Scooters, embodying the Make in India vision, can fulfill all the requirements of the customer. Its price is very low and in the coming days it has the power to give a tough competition to the EVs present in the market.
Come, know about the features of his EV and his journey so far.
How was the journey till now?
If we talk about Suhas’s journey so far, then his way to reach here has not been easy. Prior to this, he has experience running and failing three other startups. But he never got discouraged by his failures, rather he learned a lot from it.
Suhas has The Better India “I spent all my money on running a robotics venture, which for some reason did not take off. Then in the year 2018 due to lack of funds, I had to close all my three startups.
But despite all this, Suhas has the passion to do something different, which does not allow him to give up even after failing. While living with his parents in Bengaluru, he planned his new startup. Suhas has a passion for automobiles, especially motor bikes. He has spent a lot of time understanding Tesla and watching videos of new electric vehicles.
Electric Scooters Inspired From Tesla
Says Suhas, “There were a lot of questions in my mind regarding EVs. It was inspiring for me to see and read about Tesla’s work. Then I asked myself a question – is there any company in India making quality EVs like Tesla? When I went out with my father to buy an EV, I had a lot of questions about the EV. I could not find any Electric Scooters meeting specific needs anywhere in the market. I was surprised. This incident made me think about EVs.”
Suhas spent the next six months researching the EV sector. In fact, he wanted to know in-depth about the working style of EVs, their manufacturing and this industry. Here he got his year-long experience working in robotics. He already knew about lithium-ion batteries, circuit boards, battery management systems and other equipment.
Recalling those days, Suhas says, “By that time many EV makers had entered the fray. All these companies were doing well. There was a lot going on in my mind regarding the battery range and affordable prices. Actually, this was not only mine but a major issue related to this sector, which these companies were not able to solve.
everyone blew up in the beginning joke
Suhas said, “I did not want to see EV as an ‘alternative to another vehicle’. Keeping all these requirements in mind, I made up my mind to start an e-enterprise. An IC engine scooter with a full tank of petrol can cover an average distance of 200 to 240 kms. This is the range we wanted in our EVs.”
When the idea of starting an EV startup was pitched to everyone, those who knew it laughed at it. The reason was the money involved. But Suhas did not listen to anyone, he jumped into this area with a firm intention. He soon collected some funds as well. After that, met Shrestha Mishra, co-founder of Simple Energy, through a common friend. Initially Shrestha found Suhas’s vision crazy. It was something he had never heard of.
This was the thinking about Electric Scooters
- To create an EV that will be known for its design, performance and range.
- Best looking EV scooter in the world.
- giving maximum range.
- Equipped with technical features, having IoT and other smart features.
- A scooter that is ‘value for money’ for the customers.
Suhas says, “Within a few days I convinced Shrestha Mishra about my vision and how we can build the EVs that match our expectations. Shrestha was one of the first investors to invest in my company. After that, I roped in other people from the EV sector, mechanical engineers and design professionals. Yes, I couldn’t promise him salary for a few months but told him it could be a game changer.
He said, “I put my vision in front of him. Despite being on well-paying jobs at the time, they shared a genuine passion for working on electric vehicles. I persuaded him to join my startup as a key founding member. In the beginning of 2019, our team spent 13 to 14 months without pay.
Garage was made the office of Electric Scooters
Kiran Pujari, Chief Technical Officer, Simple Energy, says, “I had to quit my 9-6 job because of the fascination to work in the EV sector. Suhas told me about his strong vision to address some of the major problems in this area. I was not worried about whether I would get money for it or not. I used to love making e-bikes. My aim was to fulfill the dream of making the best e-two wheeler instead of taking regular salary for work.”
Kiran Pujari is one of the key founding members of the company. Other key founding members include Sheetal Shetty (Head of Product), Pankaj Sable (Head of Mechanical Engineering) and Manjunath (Head of Mechanical).
Suhas said, “Our founding members successfully prototyped, raised money and are now looking forward to the launch of the product (Electric Scooters). Shrestha is solely handling the administration, HR and marketing and I am working on product development techniques and fund raising. Initially, more than half of my team was working from home. While I and some other colleagues were working from the office in the garage.”
Suhas’s parents’ house is in Bangalore. He converted the garage of the same house into the office of the company. In the year 2019, he started working on the Mark-1 prototype of the e-scooters and in September 2019 he also got his first angel investor onboard.
Some big hurdles came in the way
There were some big hurdles in the way of this startup of Suhas, despite that they all stood together. Suhas explains, “By January 2020, the Mark-1 prototype was ready. A 200 km battery range was offered in initial testing. The working concept was also ready. It was delivered to around 100 investors and also led to several VC office visits. But many people told us that it is too early to invest now. Instead they were more inclined to join us at a later stage. By March, we got investment in OEM. Unfortunately there was a lockdown that month and they also withdrew at the last minute.
Suhas was very upset due to all these reasons. But there was one thing that was stopping him from retracing his steps, that of an undisclosed angel investor. Those who kept startups afloat with their money, but needed a substantial portion of the capital for their R&D. Simple Energy’s goal was to go into production with the technology they had been working on since the beginning.
He further adds, “By May 2020, we got everything we wanted. Today we have closed Seed and Pre Series rounds of funding and are on the verge of closing Series A. Recently, Simple Energy has arranged for pre-series A funding from angel investors including Val Kanniappan, Thomas George and four others. Our Electric Scooters startup is looking to raise $10-12 million in Series A funding in the second quarter of this year.”
‘Make in India technology
Simple Energy claims to manufacture every component of its Electric Scooters in-house except the battery cell, from service design and changing design to battery pack manufacturing. According to Kiran Pujari, “The Simple Energy team aims to build the best EVs in the country. Our EV is completely Made in India except battery cells. This sets us apart and in a better position than other EV makers in the market.”
Actually, this is their new joint venture and building SAIL requires a lot of capital, resources and time, so they outsource it to many companies.
Suhas argues, “We have revamped our motor, controller, battery pack design, battery management system (BMS), inverter, suspension, discs, gear ratio, sprocket, dashboard and touchscreen and many more components on our own. Just prepared. We design all these in house and then test it and approve it. After that, we pass it on to third parties or already existing companies to manufacture it on a large scale. That’s why 90 percent of our EV scooters have been developed in-house.”
economical battery range
Suhas says that his upcoming Mark-2 bike will be equipped with features like 4.8 kWh lithium-ion battery, 240 km range in Eco mode, 100 kmph top speed and 0.50 kmph acceleration in 3.6 seconds. Apart from this, the bike will also get a removable battery, mid drive motor. In addition, it will also have smart features like touch screen, on board navigation, Bluetooth.
Suhas explains, “The IC-engine scooter can cover 200 to 240 kms with a full tank of petrol. We wanted to develop a scooter with a similar battery range. Right now our country does not have a developed charging infrastructure. So, if an EV talks about a range of only 60 km, then the customer is justified in worrying about its reliability. We want to take the battery range to a higher level, where customers will not care whether or not to have a ‘charging infrastructure’. We have to understand their problems and make changes according to their needs, making it easy to use in every possible way.”
Regarding battery charging, Kiran, Chief Technical Officer, Simple Energy, says that Simple Energy’s cell chemistry gives the Mark-2 the option of fast charging from 0-100 percent in 40 minutes.
What will be the price?
Kiran claims, “We are developing fast charging technology for scooters as well. We will also provide a charging kit along with the scooter to our customers. However, it cannot be said right now whether this kit will be a fast charging kit or not. It has a removable battery, which you can charge at home. This two-wheeler is compatible with both slow and fast charging systems.”
The price of this scooter can be between Rs 1.1 lakh to 1.25 lakh.
Suhas said, “Our main objective is to in-house manufacturing and manufacturing of EVs as much as possible and to move forward with the vision of Make in India (Electric Scooters). We aim to provide our customers with the best EVs at affordable prices so that they don’t have to think too much about switching from petrol to EVs. Our second objective is to make India the engineering and design hub of the automotive world. We aim to make EVs attractive, accessible and marketable to customers through innovative designs. All I want to ask the customers is that when you can buy the Mark-2 e scooter, why would you want to switch to a super bike?”
Original article: Rinchen Norbu Wangchuck
Editing – G N Jha
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