‘We will have a lithium ion battery solution for e-rickshaws within a year.’
Sulajja Firodia Motwani, founder and CEO of Kinetic Green Energy and Power Solutions, speaks on the launch of the Safar electric rickshaw, production plans and capacity expansion.
Sulajja Firodia Motwani, founder and CEO of Kinetic Green Energy and Power Solutions, speaks to Shobha Mathur on the launch of the Safar electric rickshaw, production plans and capacity expansion.
How have you been able to bring down the cost of the e-rickshaw to Rs 128,000 compared to a conventionally fueled three-wheeler that costs around Rs 200,000?
That is the Kinetic expertise. We are experts in frugal engineering, bringing advanced technology to the customer at an affordable price. That is in our DNA – to achieve the right price performance point, understand what the customer needs, what is the speed he requires as also the life span in terms of battery life and the load the customer needs to carry. Then, we create a product ground-up that meets the customer’s specifications but is also affordable. The vehicle price is Rs 125,000, the additional price of Rs 3,000 is VAT (value added tax).
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recently announced plans to make lithium ion batteries more affordable by collaborating with institutions like ISRO. Will you be taking a leaf from that book to power your forthcoming e-rickshaws?
Yes that is an area where we are very keen to work in. But MoRTH is focusing more on buses run on lithium ion batteries. We are in touch with them and are looking at various ways to bring the lithium ion technology into e-rickshaws. I think within 12 months we will have a lithium ion (battery) solution.
What was the investment in the Kinetic Safar project?
We have, so far, invested Rs 25 crore in this project which includes the product development, launch cost, plant and equipment. This excludes the land and building for the plant which we have taken on lease from our Group company.
What are the key products that Kinetic will be producing at the Ahmednagar plant?
We make the entire range of buggies at the plant. We produce the Safar there and future products like the Safar Cargo will also be made there.
Since Kinetic Green has an ambitious plan to expand its manufacturing footprint across India, how much investment do you envisage going forward?
We will have to see how the market evolves. We want to be closer to the customer; for instance, we would like to locate a plant in the East, in the North and the West so that we can quickly reach the market and reduce the logistics costs. Our mother plant will feed some of the key aggregates but the assembly can be done locally. Our installed capacity at the Ahmednagar plant is 4,000 units per month, so for the next 1.5 years we do not need to set up another plant.
We have not yet identified the land in these regions yet and will announce future plans in a year’s time. Right now our focus is to expand our production to meet the Uttar Pradesh government’s scheme requirements.
What about plans for a ramp up of scale in the existing plant?
We will now focus on working capital for scaling up for which we will work with different banks but we do not need any capex as we have fully invested in the product. We are looking at raising Rs 30 crore from the banks for working capital over the next few months.
How do you propose to commercialise the e-Cargo and e-bus?
The e-Cargo will come in the next 3-4 months. It is already under final prototype development and will go for homologation, so by June or September we will have it in the market. Buggies are E-buses or mini- buses that we are already selling across the country and have dealerships in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Patna for them. We are also looking to set up a dealer in north India. We are selling them to hotels, resorts, private farmhouses and townships.
Delhi-NCR is popularising e-rickshaws. Are you talking to the state government for them?
Not yet as we have started our retail focus in the north and institution-wise, we have a big order already in our hand which we have to focus on completing.
Have other state governments also shown interest in the e-rickshaws?
Yes, some of them have.
Where are the 15 dealerships for the Safar coming up?
Currently our dealers have come up in Delhi, NCR, UP and Punjab. We will expand with more dealers in UP, Rajasthan, Haryana and then in the east. UP, West Bengal, Delhi, Bihar and Orissa are large markets because there is a natural pull due to the population there, the socio-economic status, and crowded cities there already have manual rickshaws where customers pay around Rs 10 for a short trip. The Safar will be a better alternative with a higher speed and at the same price.
Will you also look at rolling out electric two-wheelers?
Not right now, we are focused on public transport at the moment. We want to focus on green transport at an affordable price for the common man and mass production.
The Safar currently has 65 percent localisation. Which are the parts that are not localised?
Some of the parts like converters and motors are imported. We will continue to localise as we move forward.
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