Ajeet Kumar, Founder & CEO, R2H Motors speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the pace of innovation in the automotive sector and why we need to embrace smart transportation.
How did you initiate this innovation driven project called eRideLite?
Having worked for decades with automotive giants like Ford India and Daewoo Motors, auto motives have always been a passion. Last decade has seen a lot of changes and talk on energy conservation, generation and uses. I was keenly trying to find way to contribute into this.
The eye opener came during a visit to China, where their metros have completely banned conventional petrol or diesel bikes due to pollution, and I saw thousands of people using electric bikes. The issues and challenges in India (traffic & pollution) are similar to China. Recent initiatives like the Odd and even system in Delhi shows pollution has moved from being an academic subject to a growing disruption. But industry is yet to gear up and we have lagged behind in terms of such mass-scale solutions.
In-depth study revealed, most solutions on offer seem to be resorting to the known shortcut of importing and selling kits, etc. No sincere effort is going into understanding the local market and building a genuine product to suit our conditions, which is the gap we set out to address with the eRideLite innovation.
What is the essence of this initiative?
I would sum up the essence with a quote from Ludwig von Mises, “Innovation is the whim of an elite before it becomes a need of the public.” We decided to build a sustainable personal transportation vehicle that will not only help to fight the pollution issue but do so economically and with convenience of a conventional bicycle. eRideLite can be used in both modes – electric, and manual/ pedal mode (with 6-speed gears).
We have tried to find engineering solutions for our local infrastructural constraints – like lack of charging points – where the entry model itself has a 50 km range, on a single charge. With most people commuting a maximum of 30-40 kms in a single day, this obviates the need to charge during the day.
The frame design is patent pending & it comes with a Stem mounted, removable battery, which provides best of stability. The electrical architecture, then, remains durable and reliable, even against with local potholes and speed breakers. Front suspension provides necessary convenience to the ride with added safety of disc brakes in both wheels. Double wall alloy rim provide a long life to the Ebike.
Lastly, on the economy pricing, eRideLite is completely designed and developed in India for local Indian market conditions with global quality standard. Apart from the 6-speed gears & the Lithium Ion cells for the battery, all other components have been produced or sourced indigenously in India. This has helped keep the costs in check, and hence this great pricing – against comparable Ebikes which start at Rs. 40,000 & above, we have been able to offer the bike from Rs. 23,900 onwards!
What are the products and solutions that we can expect from the organization in the coming months?
eRideLite is the first offering which we are keen to make a success through crowd funding. It comes in 2 models
eRL 50 : Can run 50 km with single charge
eRL 90 : Can run 90 Km with single charge
Each of these are fitted with 36 V 250 W BLDC motors one of best among industry. Bike is supported by Lithium Ion battery which has a life of more than 2 years. It has a detachable battery that can be removed within 10 seconds from Ebike. It provides user facility to charge battery along with bike or just detach it and carry with yourself at your desk.
User can also use it in manual mode (pedal mode) in case they want. It not only provides extra convenience in case of battery discharge but even helps people to improve fitness by linking workout with daily commuting. All these cutting edge features and quality are at affordable price for Mass. This makes eRideLite as Next Generation eBike for India.
What is your go to market strategy in India?
We see Ebikes as the youngest sibling in Automotive sector. It’s DNA has all the properties & processes that apply to any other Automotive Vehicles. Like, a well thought through Product Design, Efficient supplier base, Sales and after Sales network. Customer input has prominent role to plan even in product maturity and enhancement.
Considering these characteristics, eRideLite has decided to go to market with FuelADream.com, a crowd funding platform. One, it gives us a nation-wide reach. Two, on a crowd funding platform, consumers get to pre-order the Ebike, by paying in advance. At the end of the campaign, this amount is transferred to us, for us to source all the components & build all the bikes that have been ordered.
This helps to overcome some of the legacy challenges like Working capital, Inventory cost, and Go-to-market costs like Dealer or distributor margins, marketing costs, etc. Which is why the pricing through crowd funding becomes so attractive to the end consumers, and they get the product directly from us manufacturers. Three, needless to say, it also facilitates a direct relationship with our customers, for any feedback, etc.
How do you look at the smart devices segment today – we are living in connected ecosystems. In such scenario what kind of vision do you have for enabling better solutions for consumers?
We do see ecosystem developing around Smart Devices. Though Indian market is yet to pick up pace, it’s significance is unquestionable. Smart Devices is in core of basic design and development of eRideLite. We see this from two different perspectives.
- 1stone is looking inside. Key components like Motor, Battery etc have quite a few self analyzing and corrective features. It does monitor few critical parameters on continuous basis and alert rider in case of any error or major deviation. Critical parameters are linked with safety of riders and performance of vehicles. In some cases it does take corrective actions by itself. eRideLite does include Mobile charging features.
- 2ndone is integrating it externally. Architecture for external integration is in place. In near future, we can plan on having model that will include features like, tracing your bike through mobile, Analysis of your regular route and suggestions similar to Google map.
Please share with us your growth plans? From where is this growth going to come from?
eVehicle is in nascent stage in India. I see quite big market ready to explode. Onus lies with Industry to remove few basic roadblocks. Now it’s not the matter of if, but when and how fast. To start with we see few early adopter segments, which would be ready for an Ebike like eRideLite,
- Urban commuters, with daily travel of less than 40 Km, who’re fed up of the traffic problems
- Students from Standard 8 onwards. As it’s safe and doesn’t need any driving license.
- People with desire to improve fitness but not able to get enough courage. Here you can pedal as long as you’d like to, and then switch to electric mode for the rest of your journey.
- Environmental conscious people
From a channel partners perspective – what is your business proposition for a potential partner? How many distributors/ channel partners are looking forward to work closely in the coming months?
Currently our focus is on our Crowd funding campaign as that’s the Go-to-Market channel we have chosen. We’d like to make sure we finish this campaign successfully & then deliver all the Ebikes booked. Our priority is to make sure these first customers of the product are so happy, that they in turn, become proponents for eRideLite among their friends & families, as also on social media. We shall make our further plans, only after that.
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