The latest electric vehicle (EV) in the emerging Indian market is a motorcycle called Prana, made by a Coimbatore-based start-up Srivaru Motors (SVM). Aimed largely at the commuter customer segment, the Prana offers 4 riding modes (3 forward, 1 reverse), one of which unleashes some aggressive torque to propel the motorcycle towards a top speed of 123 kmph.
For the uninitiated, there's a 'practise' mode which offers a smooth acceleration and caps the top speed at only 45 kmph. To help the user reverse the 165 kg motorcycle, there is a reverse drive mode to move it at less than 5kmph. The 'Drive' mode offers a 123 kmph top speed too, but with a moderate acceleration. The Prana hit the roads today with its mid variant, Grand, priced at Rs 2.25 lakh. Customers can can get it for Rs. 2 lakh by planning 10 trees each. Two more variants - an entry 'Class', and a more performance oriented 'Elite' variant are in the works.
Srivaru Motors' founder and CEO, Mohan Ramasamy says the performance quotient of the motorcycle was critical during its development as SVM wants to build performance as a key differentiator, not quite common in the domestic electric two-wheeler market, for the Prana. "Creating the best user experience is hugely important to us," says the engineer-entrepreneur, who's also had a work stint at Tesla. Another driver for developments at SVM, Mohan says, is the "admiration for the community of Indian engineers".
To be sold through 12 dealers in southern India during the first phase, the Prana is powered by a 4.32kW air-cooled Lithium-ion battery pack with a claimed riding range of 126 kms (10 percent less in sports mode). The Prana is propelled by a hub mounted BLDC motor.
With less than 26,000 high speed electric two-wheelers sold during 2020, India is yet to offer the critical scale, especially for players like SVM. However, with electrification expected to be the future of the automotive industry, SVM is bullish about growth prospects. "We might need to put up 4-5 plants to meet the demand in the future," says Mohan at the vehicle launch and customer handover function in Coimbatore. SVM plans to build a cluster of factories in Tamil Nadu, along with partners to build a strong EV ecosystem. It has already signed an MoU with the Tamil Nadu government in this regard.
While market volume is crucial for sustainability of EV players, SVM wants to have robust quality systems in place for sustainable growth. "We want to be the most trusted brand in the automobile space," says Mohan. That's an ambitious target. But start-ups, many of them disruptors, are known for having ambitious plans. Mohan and team will perhaps have busier days ahead.