Imagine being in the middle of the road and the battery of your electric bike giving way. Clearly, panic sets in as you try to push your vehicle to the side of the road and the thought of pushing it all the way to your house fills you with dread. However, if you are riding on the Limitless electric bike, instead of pushing the vehicle, you simply start pedalling and continue to navigate swiftly amidst the traffic.
Isn’t that the coolest thing you have heard today? The brand new electric bikes that can also be used as regular bicycles developed by the Indian brand Limitless can certainly make heads turn.
The brains behind this cool electric bike are ‘ecopreneurs’ Rahul and Raja Gayam. The brothers inherited entrepreneurship from their father and being aware citizens and environment enthusiasts, decided to combine their passion for the environment with their expertise in making vehicles.
The simple yet powerful idea for the electric bike (which can also be used as a bicycle) came to the Gayam brothers while acknowledging a looming problem for electric vehicles in India.
“See, for the vehicles that run on diesel, petrol and CNG, you have petrol pumps, and gas stations everywhere. However, there is no network of recharge stations for the electric vehicles. The lack of such options to recharge your vehicle acts as a big hindrance for the e-vehicles. While we were pondering upon the problem, we came up with the idea of manufacturing an e-bike that can be pedalled in case the battery drains out,” tells Raja.
The journey, however, hasn’t been easy. Raja and Rahul completed their education and decided to dive into the automobile manufacturing business. They had always wanted to make electric vehicles, however the cost of R&D for developing efficient electric vehicles was too high. Therefore, the duo started manufacturing auto rikshaws in petrol, diesel and CNG variants at their firm Gayam Motor Works (GMW) in 2010. The profits that they earned from exporting these rikshaws abroad went into the R&D for creating energy efficient electric vehicles.
“The Li-Ion battery technology that goes into our SmartAutos is similar to what goes into our smartphones. This makes our SmartAutos almost as powerful as diesel auto-rickshaws that run on Indian roads today. Unlike e-rickshaws with lead-acid batteries, our SmartAuto gives a maximum speed of 55 kmph and can run 100-110 km on a single charge. Since the lithium-ion batteries are much more efficient and durable, and the cells need to be imported, the cost of production is high when compared to lead-acid powered e-rickshaws. However, we have tried to cut costs wherever possible to deliver an affordable vehicle for the masses,” says Sri Harsha Bavirisetty, Chief Operating Officer at GMW.
The company is now involved in making electric autos for its Business to Business (B2B) clients. The startup recently partnered with online grocery retailer BigBasket to pilot electric autos in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.
“We offer both passenger and cargo variants of electric autos with a load capacity of 450 kg and maximum speed of 55 kmph,” informs Sri Harsha.
The company’s comparatively new product is Limitless electric bike, which was launched in the latter half of 2016.
The Limitless bikes have garnered much attention right from the beginning. Gayam Motor Works’ very first customer for the electric bikes is Uber. Uber has been using the limitless electric bikes for its food delivery unit UberEATS in Singapore, Hong Kong and San Francisco. The company has also delivered over 100 bikes to the government of Andhra Pradesh for sanitary supervisors in the city of Vizag. The company is also running pilots with delivery companies like Swiggy, Food Panda, Gati and Big Basket.
“There are two versions of electric bikes that run 30 km and 60 km respectively for a full charge of two-and-a-half hours. The bikes come with different levels of pedal assistances to give you a push. Once you start pedalling, the motor kicks in and supplies about 80% of the energy. And if you don’t want to pedal, there is a throttle next to the right handle, which can take you from 0-25 kmph in five seconds,” explains Sri Harsha.
Although the company is mainly working in a B2B (Business to Business) model, it has recently started taking individual orders on its website. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the Limitless electric bike is priced between Rs 28,000 to Rs 45,000.
“Once purchased, the rider spends about Rs 4 per 60 km with practically zero maintenance costs, which is what makes it unique. It’s environment-friendly as well as light on your pocket,” concludes Sri Harsha.