TVS Motor Co, which launched the Apache RR 310 supersports motorcycle yesterday, has pulled out another rabbit from under its hat. The Chennai-based two-wheeler manufacturer has picked up a 14.78 percent stake in Ultraviolette Automotive, a Bangalore-based electric two-wheeler and energy infrastructure start-up which was set up in end-December 2016.
The start-up’s founders are Narayan Subramaniam (CEO) and Niraj Rajmohan (CTO) who graduated from the BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore. While Subramaniam also studied at the National Institute of Design and onwards at Umea University in Sweden, Rajmohan, who completed an MBA in the Philippines, had a stint in Yahoo and NetApp.
The company currently comprises a 13-member team. Along with the founders, the others are Karthik Kannan (senior digital designer), Rajaneesh Bhat Unchalli (principal engineer – power electronics hardware), Ajay Rao (industrial designer and prototyping lead), Akshay Kamthe (concept and vehicle designer), Sachin Nilugal (senior mechanical engineer), Ponnambalam Venkatesh (digital designer), Rishi Franklin (principal engineer – embedded systems), Mohammed Ismail (vehicle design – trainee), Vinayak Bhat (design engineering manager), Nisha Gupta (senior design engineer), Ravi Kumar (mechanical design engineer).
Fast-growing EV competencies in India’s 2-wheeler industry
Given the government's heightened focus on electric mobility, two-wheeler OEMs and other vehicle segment manufacturers are actively engaged in driving EV projects forward. For TVS Motor Co, this clearly is a strategic investment. The Chennai-based manufacturer is learnt to be developing both a hybrid two-wheeler and an electric scooter, the latter slated for a launch sometime around April 2018.
Ultraviolette Automotive, which was set up in 2014, reported a revenue of Rs 31,570 in FY2015-16 and Rs 321,386 in FY2016-17. While not much is known about the company’s capabilities, it is understood that the company has been testing various two-wheeler prototypes, battery packs and other offerings. The company has already got its third prototype tested.
The third prototype being tested (Images: Ultraviolette Automotive)
Two-wheeler majors invest in start-ups
The first big-ticket investment in a two-wheeler start-up was by Hero MotoCorp in Ather Energy, which is also based in Bangalore. In October 2016, Hero MotoCorp took a 26-30 percent stake in Ather Energy, investing Rs 180 crore, which was the bulk of an overall Rs 205 crore investment from Hero MotoCorp.
The funding marked the third round of investments in Ather Energy, which is building the S340 – India’s first smart, electric scooter and slated for launch soon. The S340 was recently displayed at GES 2017 in Hyderabad. Previous rounds of investments in Ather Energy were by Tiger Global, and Sachin and Binny Bansal, promoters of Flipkart, in their personal capacity.
Tork Motorcycles, another start-up that makes electric motorcycles, also raised angel funding from Bhavish Agarwal and Ankit Bhati, co-founders of cab aggregator company Ola, and other investors.
Pune-based Tork Motorcycles, founded by Kapil Shelke, is developing an electric motorcycle—T6X—and is in the closing stages of prototyping and certification for the speed machine.
Read more: Mahindra plots electric scooter for India
Bajaj Auto looks at entering EV space