A year ago, Dinkar Agarwal did not realise the daunting task he had undertaken to build an electric bike from scratch.
Unlike his competitors, the co-founder of OBEN EV—a Bengaluru based startup conceived in 2020—wanted to offer an electric bike that was entirely ‘desi’.
Come December, the startup has built a working bike that is ready to test drive and has 16 patent innovations under its belt. Dinkar claims the bike can reach 0 to 40 km/hr in 3 seconds and cover a distance of 200 kilometres. The maximum speed is 100 km per hour.
Speaking with The Better India, Dinkar says, “We wanted to create a vehicle that is entirely indigenous and offers comfort and riding experience at par with Pulsar 180 cc and 200 cc bikes. But the EV ecosystem in India has not matured as expected in terms of infrastructure, and we struggled with designing and manufacturing the smallest components of the vehicle. But apart from the battery cells, we have successfully created a truly Indian electric bike.”
Describing the technical specifications, Dinkar says the proprietary charger enables the vehicle to charge within two hours. “The vehicle can be fast-charged in an hour using an external DC charger,” he says.
He says the vehicle has an ARX design frame, which centralises the vehicle load to a single focal point making it lighter and agile for the riders to manoeuvre.
“Another unique design aspect includes the design of the battery, which appears to be floating and assisting the rider in riding experience. The frame is carved from an aluminium casing, a first in the industry. The overall design structure helps maximum heat exchange and reduces heat in the battery pack which is currently the biggest problem in performance electric 2-wheelers,” he explains, adding, “The electric bike is lighter by 25 per cent compared to its rivals in the same segment.”
Besides the design components, the e-bike offers user interaction via smartphone connectivity. “The mobile app shares details on the range, battery life, predictive maintenance, roadside assistance and more. The service support is also a first in the segment,” Dinkar claims.
He adds that such innovations and unique factors helped the company achieve 16 patents under product improvement, bill of material reduction, data analytics and consumer experience categories.
“The product improvement and consumer experience are where the users will feel the differences first-hand compared to the competitors. The remaining factors help reduce the production cost of the vehicle that benefit the investors, and the data analytics help the engineers to gather data and improve the product,” he says.
Madhumita, his wife and co-founder, says it is the first electric bike that is a working model in the country and ready to be tested by potential customers. “Creating a product that delivers has been the reason for our investors to show confidence in us. Building a fully-functioning electric bike has also put the startup ahead of the curve compared to other competitors. As other companies have no functional product, a user can test,” she adds.
Her husband adds, “To improve the customer experience and make it engaging, we have added gamification on the vehicle that will enable all Oben bike users to interact and compete on the various aspects of the bike in terms of performance, maintaining battery life and others.”
The startup plans to launch and allow the customers to experience the vehicle ride in the first quarter of 2022. “We will also accept pre-bookings and start production. The deliveries will begin from April,” Madhumita shares.
She adds that besides designing and building an indigenous bike, attracting funding was became a challenge for the startup. “The EV market can be tricky as many players promise multiple features. However, it was necessary to create a functional bike to build trust and faith among the investors, and it helped us attract recent funding of USD 1.5 million,” she adds.
For now, Madhumita feels proud to have achieved a milestone in the EV sector. “I hope the customers show the same faith and love the way we have,” she says.
For further details and inquiries, please visit Oben EV.
Edited by Yoshita Rao