Bicycles evoke nostalgia. They have that old-world charm that will never fade. With the eco-wave (finally!) sweeping across the world, bicycles are making a welcome comeback as one of the preferred modes of commuting short distances. Over time, we saw the emergence of e-bikes coming in as a solution for long distance commute, saving time and energy. India too is seeing a surge in companies flooding the market with e-bikes helping people contribute to the environment.
In this hot market, Chandigarh based e-bike manufacturing startup, Zadd Automotive, is carving a niche for itself. The start-up manufactures two e-bike models—Utility Mini and Zadd X1. While it is gearing up to launch its Utility Mini commercially in the month of April this year, Zadd XI will be launched by the end of this year.
The USP of Zadd bikes is that they can be converted into smart bikes powered by IoT and AI.
The startup started out as a college project in 2014 when its co-founders—Shubham Goyal and Aniket Bhardwaj, began developing an IoT based anti-theft system for a large e-bike company based in Canada. This was their first introduction to high-end electric bikes.
While working on the project, the duo realised that fitting an electronic chip on a bicycle without compromising on aesthetics is quite tough. “Meanwhile, we also realised that there was a huge gap in the e-bike market for smart e-bikes which could appeal to the masses. This understanding became the ultimate source of inspiration to develop the bikes of our own,” says 24-year-old Shubham.
Zadd e-bikes and Its Features
The compact-sized Utility Mini runs on two removable batteries with a range of 120KM on a single charge of two hours. The batteries can be charged in your homes and offices. The bike has adjustable handles which makes the bike easy to use for riders with heights between 4.5 ft to 7ft.The bike can carry upto 80 kgs (not including the rider’s weight) and has different carrying accessories that can be docked at the bike, making it suitable to carry a range of cargo and move through the city with ease.
The ‘Utility Mini’ bike is priced at Rs. 50,000 for a dual battery pack and Rs. 40,000 for a single battery pack.
They already have over 200 pre-orders for their Utility Mini bikes. They also plan on introducing another model—the Zadd X1—which is ideal for a rider in an urban setting and they plan on taking orders towards the end of 2020.
The Zadd X1 e-bikes are suitable for individual users and will come with accessories like the rear basket and pannier bags that one would otherwise have to buy separately.
The Zadd e-bikes come with an option of having a connected biking system in place and a bike monitoring app which brings it in the category of smart bikes. Depending on what the bike is going to be used for, the apps are different like bike rental app and delivery app, among others.
Zadd currently has orders for their ‘Utility Mini’ bikes from B2C bike rental companies.
Co-founder Aniket, 23, believes that their smart bike features will be of great help to these companies as it would enable them to closely monitor the functions of the bike.
“Everytime before and after a bike is used by the customer, our app will send a report on the condition of the bike before and after every trip. This will help the companies in tracking the source of damages and increase the accountability of the customers. The customers too can access these reports which will promote greater transparency,” he explains.
Similarly, they also have orders from goods delivery companies for last mile deliveries. Zadd is developing custom features on this sector on their app to monitor different aspects of the delivery process.
The bikes are currently being manufactured in Ludhiana. While, design, marketing, sales and other company operations are being undertaken in Panchkula in Haryana.
Classmates turned Business Partners—The Founders of Zadd
The startup was founded in 2017 by classmates Shubham Goyal and Aniket Bhardwaj when they were still studying in the Chitkara University and graduated in Electronics and Communication Engineering in 2017.
The startup was incubated by the Chitkara innovation incubator. The duo knew that design and technology are two parameters that could have a universal appeal for their e-bikes and hence, these were two factors on which they focussed heavily.
In 2018, realising the gaps of knowledge they had in handling of business, Subham enrolled in online business classes with top universities like the IE Business School, University of Virginia, Kellogg School of Management while still managing Zadd’s operations in India.
The learnings from the challenges they faced
One of the early challenges that the duo faced is the lack of awareness about electric bicycles.
“Most of the times when I ask people what an e-bike is, the most common answer is that it is a bike retrofitted with a motor and a battery. People do not understand pedal assist, which is the dominant mode of travel in the mainstream European market,” says Shubham.
He adds that looking at e-bikes from the lens of a bicycle makes people expect the e-bikes to be cheap. But Shubham explains that well designed e-bikes will be priced much higher than a conventional bicycle as they are fitted with good quality components that are costly.
Speaking about the adoption of e-bikes in India, Shubham also highlights that there is a lack of pilots on light vehicles in India. “The potential and sustainable impact of this large EV market is underestimated as people generally give more importance to scooties and high speed motor bikes,” says Shubham.
Regardless, the duo is undaunted and looks forward to the commercial launch of both the bikes this year. They have dealers in countries like Finland, Norway, Thailand and Indonesia besides India. They also have a small sales team in Europe and South-east Asia.
Zadd has also built it’s network of e-bike retailers across cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Delhi and Ahmedabad.
“Looking forward, we want to push electric bikes in the market. Greater knowledge among the masses along with awareness on it’s health benefits and it’s environmental benefits, is what we strive for,” says Aniket.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)