Up until a few years ago, the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry was riddled with several doubts and questions regarding the feasibility of infrastructure, and lack of incentives or policies that would boost the industry. However, post 2018, it has seen the formation of favourable policies and a subsequent boom in EV startups. According to data by the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), there was a 20% rise in domestic sales of EVs, despite the challenging fiscal year of 2020.
The body further outlines that although EVs make for less than one per cent of the total vehicle sales in India, the industry is expected to rise to 5% in the foreseeable future. Thanks to some policies for EV adoption, such as the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) Scheme, and income tax rebates, several EV companies are flourishing in the Indian market.
Besides thriving, EV companies, especially the ones making E-cycles, are also introducing technically advanced vehicles with cutting-edge features such as reverse gears, theft alarm, and side-stand sensors. They take pride in upholding values of green mobility, while being cost-friendly and suitable for Indian roads and people.
One such startup, targeting customers who are looking to make a shift to more sustainable lifestyles, is Pune-based Nexzu Mobility, started by Atulya Mittal in 2015. The venture, which was previously named Avan Motors, sells e-cycles and e-scooters.
Atulya, a Harvard Business School alumnus, was an investor at Papa John’s India, one of India’s largest pizza chains. He was taken aback when he couldn’t find affordable scooters for deliveries, especially in the EV segment. Thus began his tryst with electric scooters and finding answers to real bottlenecks that made EV adoption challenging.
The next thing he knew, he was aggressively researching the fundamentals of EVs, market opportunities, supply chain, manufacturing parts.
“At first, when we started exploring this market, there was very little focus on the sector. It was 2015, and hardly anyone, maybe except for a handful of companies, were working on electric two-wheelers in India. The first challenge was finding adequate relevant market information to form a view on whether this idea had legs,” Atulya tells The Better India.
Atulya further underlines how their EV model not only benefits owners due to affordable costs, but also adheres to environment-friendly guidelines.
For example, the driving cost of an EV is Rs 0.2/km, against the fossil-fuel guzzling vehicles that costs 1.5/km. “On the charge of Rs 10*, our e-cycles can run for 150 km and scooters for 45 km. For Rs 50, the cycles can run up to 1,000 km,” says Atulya.
*( Rs 10 worth of electricity consumption for charging. Cost per unit estimated @ Rs 8).
With fewer parts, the made-in-India cycles are low-maintenance, thus saving more costs. Most importantly, they can be charged anywhere, using basic sockets that phones or laptops do.
“Our electric cycles are designed, engineered, and manufactured in India. So Nexzu is helping shape the Indian electric mobility industry by pushing local manufacturing and development in India,” Rahul Shonak, COO, Nexzu Mobility, tells The Better India.
Features of the e-cycles
- Priced between Rs 31,983 and Rs 42,317, the e-cycles were launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit India.
- The electric bicycles are fitted with a 36-volt, 250-watt brushless DC motor and 26-inch nylon tyres.
- The e-cycles have two variants, Rompus+ and Roadlark.
- With a life cycle of 750 charges, both the cycles take 3-4 hours for a full charge.
- While Roadlark can run for 80 kilometres on a single charge, Rompus+ can go over 30 kilometres.
- Roadlark has a range of 65 km in pedal mode and 55 km in throttle mode. Rompus+ has a range of 25 km in pedal mode and 20 km in throttle mode.
- Roadlark comes with two batteries, one detachable and on installed in-frame.
- Accessories come as a part of standard fitment. This includes two sturdy mudguard (front and rear), lights, dual disc (front and rear), wheel reflectors, rear reflectors and horns
- The motor and battery offer 18-months warranty.
With a presence of over 70 dealers across India, customers can either book the cycles via them, or head over to the website for online purchase.
The company’s plant in Chakan in Pune has a capacity to manufacture 50,000 bikes every year. “At our current trajectory and growth trend, we expect to be maxed out at this facility in the coming months, which is when we will start to expand,” says Atulya.
Dr Ritu Singh, a lecturer at Government College, Noida, says Nexzu’s e-cycle is a feasible solution for her. “When I heard about Nexzu’s cycles, I was delighted at the prospect of hassle-free mobility. In today’s world, when petrol prices are going up to Rs 100 per litre, EVs are the only solution. I never realised riding a cycle could be so effortless, and feel a sense of excitement and pride when I’m on the road,” she tells The Better India.
Meanwhile, Maria Mendizabal, CEO at MBM Associates from Delhi, says, “I am passionate about the need of a balanced lifestyle and Nexzu electric cycle mirror my ethos as it is a perfect balance between being eco-friendly and cost-effective.”
Overcoming challenges & future plans
Apart from gathering information in the initial period, the biggest learning curve for the company was finding its way into the auto industry. Although they took help from industry experts to address this issue, there remained certain things that were not in their hands.
One example was when FAME II replaced FAME I overnight. “With the introduction of FAME II, strict localisation norms changed overnight. We had to re-engineer our entire pricing structure and for about three months, the market was entirely quiet. However, as a result of FAME II, we see the local supply chain developing rapidly, so a new challenge has been on how quickly we can localise,” says Atulya.
Coronavirus posed a challenge as well. Their dealer network, factory and offices were shut. So they took alternate routes, worked remotely and identified areas to strengthen the company.
“Looking back, each year has brought at least one existential crisis for the company. However, each time, we emerged stronger. Each of the grey clouds had a big silver lining. We’ve had many trials by fire as a very young company, which gives me tremendous confidence that as we grow, we will make our mark on the industry,” he adds.
Despite the challenges, Nexzu Mobility has effectively made its mark and established a strong presence in India’s green mobility segment over the years. The company aims to capture international export markets and also introduce new products, including two premium e-cycles in the near future. In a bid to simplify access to Nexzu’s products, the company will soon go live on online platforms such as Amazon, Paytm, Choosemybicycle and BikeForSale to sell e-cycles.
Get in touch with Nexzu Mobility here.
Edited by Divya Sethu