If there is one silver lining amidst the pandemic, it is the drastic change in air quality across India, thanks to a drop in fossil-fuel guzzling vehicles on roads.
Who would have thought that no vehicles on the road would result in the visibility of the Himalayan range in villages of Punjab? Not just that, metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru are also witnessing a drop in vehicular emissions.
The takeaway, then, is clear, that to have clean air, we need to cut down on vehicles that emit nitrogen oxide, thus reiterating the signal to switch to cleaner modes of transportation like Electric Vehicles (EV).
The good news is that the government and e-vehicle manufacturing companies across India are attempting to make the switch easier for consumers.
Take, for instance, the FAME II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles) scheme that offers subsidies and incentives to manufacturers. Also, the reduced GST on EVs to 5 per cent from the previous 12. Companies are also not far behind in offering a range of affordable, smart, and eco-friendly options in terms of two, three, and four-wheelers.
Joining this much-needed push is Bhopal-based Enigma Automobiles Private Limited started in 2015 by brothers Anmol (30) and Alankrit (27) Bohre.
The EV company manufactures e-rickshaws and e-scooters with local manufacturing parts, thus offering them at 40 per cent cheaper rates than their polluting counterparts.
Highlighting the importance of electric vehicles, Anmol tells The Better India:
“COVID-19 has shown us how nature can transform in a short period. If we move towards a renewable source of energy like electric or solar, we can help retain nature in its pure form. Fossil fuels are going to end one day. Through EVs, we can reduce our carbon footprints. It can also help our economy as a majority of crude oil is imported. We started our venture with this vision.”
Enigma offers a warranty up to three years on scooters and rickshaws, and the best part is that the vehicles can be recycled. Also, the green vehicles are water-proof and fire-resistant.
Since its inception, the company had sold around 300 scooters and rickshaws each. They have a wide range of clientele in three states, ranging from a vegetable vendor, PETA, to big companies like Top Town and iShares.
How It Started
There is an interesting story behind the birth of Engima. It was not started as a dream project or an entrepreneurial drive. Instead, it came from the necessity to make eco-friendly transport alternatives after a visit to Delhi, one of the world’s most populated cities.
A few years ago, Anmol was running his real estate consultancy firm in Bengaluru, while Alankrit was studying engineering. On a visit to Delhi in 2015, they came across electric rickshaws with open doors.
“We were fascinated and intrigued to see rickshaws that made no noise and did not need petrol or diesel. Next thing we knew, we were researching e-vehicles in the Indian market. Green vehicles have an immense potential to bring about an ecological change in the automobile industry. That was our trigger to create a similar model,” shares Anmol, also an Engineer.
Shuttling work and studies with the manufacturing of an e-rickshaw, the Bohre brothers were ready with their first model. They invested Rs 2.5 lakh from their savings and made it from scrap.
“We had several setbacks in terms of welding, suspensions, wiring, and short circuits before our final product was functional. We tested the model on our family farm and the hilly roads of Bhopal. It garnered attention and praise from locals, who asked us to manufacture for them. That’s when the idea of Engima struck,” informs Alankrit.
They borrowed money from their father and invested Rs 12 lakh in starting the company.
The duo got a certificate stating that their company is in compliance with the Central Motor Vehicles Rules from the International Centre for Automotive Technology in Gurugram.
Features of the e-Scooter
- Priced between Rs 49,000-78,000, Enigma has three scooter variants–Ambier, Crink, and GT450, “We have two batteries options: lead-acid and lithium-ion. The battery life of lithium is five times more,” says Anmol.
- Powered by BLDC Motor 250 Watt, the dust-proof battery takes up to four hours for a full charge. The scooters come with battery swapping technology where a user can replace the depleted battery with a charged one. This process takes a couple of minutes.
- On a single charge (which can be done at home or in charging stations), scooters can run up to 140 kilometres.
- Other features include tubeless tyres, front disk brakes, the rear drum brake, rear hydraulic shocker, front hydraulic suspension, three electronic gear system, reverse gear, LED head and tail light, digital LED speedometer and so on.
Features of E-Rickshaw
- Enigma is a pioneering startup that has installed a gear system in its two rickshaws models, Marut, a passenger vehicle, and Marut LDX, a loader.
- At Rs 1.10 lakh, the e-rickshaw comes with a detachable lithium-ion battery that can be charged within 2.5 hours, while the lead-acid battery is charged in eight hours. The best part about the battery is that it can be charged anywhere via a conventional household power socket and comes with a range of up to 100 km on a single charge.
- The battery life is equivalent to 400 cycles. In other words, it will run for 15 months, and the owner can get it changed from a local manufacturer.
- The vehicle is also equipped with a remote keyless system that allows the vehicle to start and stop with a remote.
- Other features include tubeless tires, LED headlights, and a mobile charging option.
- Enigma also offers a buy-back policy on e-rickshaws where the owner can compensate their vehicle after usage with cash or a new vehicle.
Giving a positive review about the company’s e-rickshaw, Rajiv M D of Ananya Package in Madhya Pradesh tells The Better India:
“For our packaging deliveries, we were looking for electric vehicles, and we came across Enigma. Initially, we were hesitant to buy a locally manufactured rickshaw. After testing, we decided to purchase it. I can vouch for its quality as it can run on bad roads as well. Plus, they provided an excellent service.”
Overcoming Challenges & Future Plans
One of the biggest challenges the Bohre brothers faced was forming a trusted network of suppliers for battery and other material.
In the initial period, vendors would often take the brothers for granted by charging exorbitant rates or compromising on quality. It was only with time and experience that a strong team was formed.
Another ongoing problem is educating customers about their products. Whether it is a thelewala or a big company, the consumer needs great efforts to be convinced about the benefits of an e-vehicle and its specifications.
For this, the duo went to the extent of displaying open batteries in their showroom in Bhopal. They are presently developing another model of e-scooter and hope to venture into e-bikes as well.
However, amidst all the hardships, they have established a strong presence in the electric vehicle industry, and aim to achieve 30 per cent of the market share by 2025.
In the last decade or so India has witnessed an explosion of electric vehicles. As per a report of Autocar India, the total EV sales in India crossed 7.5 lakh units and reached 7.59 lakh units in 2019. The significant one-year-jump is a good sign towards sustainability, and startups like Enigma have a crucial role to play.
Get in touch with Enigma here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)