Looking at the Strom-R3 electric car, the first thing that stands out is its innovative reverse trike configuration—a single wheel at the rear and the two wheels upfront.
For the co-founders of Mumbai-based startup Strom Motors, Pratik Gupta and Jean-Luc Abaziou, this globally recognised reverse trike platform offers better mobility solutions for crowded locations across Indian cities. Besides offering the same stability of a conventional hatchback, the weight of the vehicle is reduced in half.
This results in a more efficient driving experience.
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“[Nearly] 95 per cent of urban car driving happens with one or two occupants in the car. With three wheels in the reverse trike configuration you get the same stability and a highly efficient drive and about 40 per cent weight saving. Because of this, our cost per km is five times better than a CNG car and over 20 times better than a petrol/diesel compact car,” says Strom Motors on their website.
With a top speed of 80 kmph, the vehicle offers a battery range of 200 km on a single charge and maintains a low operating cost at Rs 0.40 per km. The end user can charge their cars overnight and begin the new day without worrying about getting stranded considering that daily commutes are generally less than 50 km. It just takes 3-3.5 hours for users to fully charge the car with the on-board charger that just requires a 15Amp plug point.
Strom R-3 employs lithium ion batteries from one of the top three suppliers in the world, claims Pratik. “It will last you 1 lakh km before you need a replacement and with an advanced battery management system you can stretch to 2 lakh km,” Pratik tells The Better India (TBI).
On an average, Indians travel around 15,000 km in a year, so you’re looking at a battery that will last you 5 to 7 years before you need a replacement. Although details of acceleration and battery specifications aren’t available yet, Pratik says that they are benchmarked to higher end hatchbacks in the Indian market.
Another aspect that allows the Strom-R3 to stand apart from the rest is its affordability as compared to the other vehicles in the segment. Priced at Rs 4 lakh, the Strom R-3 is more affordable than the Hyundai Kona (approx Rs 23.7 lakh), Tata Tigor (approx Rs 9.4 lakh), Mahindra E Verito (approx Rs 9.5 lakh) and the Mahindra e2oPlus (approx Rs 6 lakh).
In terms of cost, the consumer is liable to think why not just convert existing car into an electric one. But retrofitting electric kits into existing vehicles cost anywhere between Rs 5 and 7 lakhs.
“If you reduce the weight on a vehicle, energy requirements (and costs) significantly drop. That’s why we chose the reverse trike platform because our current car weighs around 550 kg (kerb weight), which is half the weight of our competitors. We require three times less the battery, employ a much smaller motor for the same performance and offer 200km range on a single charge. Everything stems from the basic design decision we have taken,” says Pratik.
Another standout feature of the R-3 is its smart technological features. For example, the vehicle comes with a 4G linked diagnostic engine, which allows commuters to not merely track location and battery charge status, but also obtain a thorough car health check up report, which ascertains the state of key components like motors, brake pads, tyres, etc.
Meanwhile, the on-board cloud integrated connectivity system helps commuters keep track of state of road terrain while it collects information about driver habits. All this data collected helps their city-based system database issue alerts on potential bad roads ahead that could compromise their battery range. Naturally, this allows drivers to avoid roads where they could be left stranded. These are smart and actionable inputs.
“The consumer cares about is what insights the technology is giving to me. If he’s just seeing a dashboard with a million information points then it’s not helpful. Our goal is to use the technology to provide insight, tracking everything from brake pads to all the moving parts. We have a simple interface explaining whether the battery condition is good, excellent or poor and what parts need maintenance. Before something happens to your car, our system will alert you. It’s a very simple and evolved insight-based interface. On the backend, it’s using the latest technology be it machine learning, terrain analysis and traffic analysis and all of this information is fed into the system to give you a better driving experience,” inform Pratik.
For example, if you’re battery has 50 per cent charge, conventional systems say that you can travel 75 km. But if you’re stuck in traffic, going on a steep climb, bad roads or suffering water logging, it affects battery range. This is something consumers need to know.
“Our intelligence platform will give you a more refined battery range number. Although the car should be travelling 75 km, the system will tell you that only 50 km with the conditions available,” adds Pratik.
Having said that, there have been real challenges along the way. For example, it took the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) a long time to approve their unique design.
Slated for launch early next year, the Strom R-3 definitely offers Indian consumers the chance at replacing their petrol/diesel run vehicle with a more affordable electric one.
Incidentally, Strom Motors is going to launch three variants of R-3 and each one will have a specific battery range (120 km, 160km and 200 km). These variants are based on consumer requirements. Most of the other specifications, however, will remain the same.
“Consumer behaviour is particularly moving towards personal mobility in India with average occupancy at 1.6. In other words, most of the time either a commuter is alone in the car or with another person. For these kinds of use cases, if you’re environmentally responsible, you don’t want to ride in a very heavy car that emits toxic greenhouse gases,” he says.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)