While electric vehicles are the need of the hour, high-performance superbikes are also an emerging automotive trend in India. How amazing would it be if these seemingly-disparate paths merge to form an electric superbike?
The idea that you can ride a bike at top speed without any guzzling litres of petrol is certainly appealing in this day and age. That’s exactly what the founders of Emflux Motors have done in Bengaluru by building its electric superbike.
The two-wheeler industry is experiencing a massive boom in India with a high demand for premium bikes. According to a 2018 report by TechSci Research, the Indian premium motorcycles market is projected to reach $161 Mn by 2023. The growth is largely due to factors such as the rising youth population, increasing disposable income, and availability of a wide array of premium motorcycles and easy financing options.
While Indians continue to have a strong interest in owning motorcycles and superbikes, they are also growing sensitive towards the environmental needs and understand the harmful effects of vehicular emissions on the ecology
Just like the two-wheeler market, the electric vehicle industry is also recording a major growth. According to FAME India report, 2.6 Lakh electric vehicles were sold in India as of December 2018. Out of these, a majority 59% of sales came from two-wheelers.
But while the traditional bike market has plenty of options and types of bikes, the electric two-wheeler segment is largely restricted to scooters or low-powered bikes. In 2015, it was estimated that sales in the India superbike segment will reach over 20K units by 2020, recording a 100% increase in demand. This explains to a large extent why Emflux is focussing on electric superbikes.
Bengaluru-based Emflux Motors is hoping to disrupt this segment with its electric superbike Emflux One. Launched in 2016 by former Jugnoo executives Varun Mittal, Ankit Khatry, and former designer at TVS Motors Vinay Raj Somashekar, Emflux Motors is the first Indian company to launch an electric superbike.
Mittal had always dreamed of building superbikes and supercars since his time in college days, but lacked the resources to make it happen. While at Jugnoo, Mittal was forced to take time off from work while recovering from an accident, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“This accident gave him enough courage and time to plan to follow his dreams of building future tech of mobility – electric vehicles,” Khatry said. Right after his recovery from the accident, Mittal along with the other two went on to launch Emflux.
Emflux Motor Looking To Blend Cool Looks And Sustainability In Its EV
Emflux Motors is aiming to make the Indian emobility industry more robust by offering a high-performance product, which seeks to eliminate the notion that electric vehicles are slow and not capable of matching up to conventional fuel bikes.
Besides developing its own bikes, Emflux also offers emobility solutions to automobile makers or original equipment manufacturers (OEM). These solutions have been built by Emflux inhouse ranging from hardware such as a battery pack, charger and motor to software tools such as a battery management system (BMS), electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), motor controller and master controller or a smart dashboard which can be controlled through a mobile app.
The Emflux superbike is scheduled to be launched in 2020 and has a rated top speed of 200 Kmph (kilometres per hour) which can accelerate from 0-100 Kmph in just three seconds. The bike is powered by Emflux’s proprietary liquid-cooled modular lithium-ion battery pack. The nominal capacity of this battery pack is 9.7 KWh and it can be charged up to 80% in just 36 minutes using fast charging technology, and in three hours with a regular EV charging station.
Besides adding a slew of high-performance features to the bike, Emflux has also tried to make sure the superbike offers a safe ride just like other conventional superbikes. “One of the most critical parts on the bike is the battery pack, which is made out of an aerospace-grade aluminium casing and is encased in a steel tubular frame. It also has carbon fibre panels for protection in case of accidents. Moreover, special safety features are implemented to prevent thermal runaway of the battery pack,” Khatry told Inc42
Emflux is mainly targeting the consumers in the premium bike segment, i.e. bikes with engine capacity in excess of 250 CC.
Scaling Up Product Line And Expanding
Apart from the first superbike which is expected to hit the roads next year, Emflux is planning to launch three more models in the next three years, and expand its presence to foreign markets.
When asked about Emflux’s plans to build e-scooters, or electric city bikes, or cars, Khatry said “With the tech that goes in Emflux One, we can easily scale up the powertrain to equip it into a three or four wheeler, or even downscale it to be used in a scooter or low-end motorcycle. We also envision to utilise our strength, the in-house R&D, to develop powertrain solutions for mass transit options”.
But it’s crucial to have these options available in places other than Bengaluru, where the company is building its initial base. It is looking to expand its distribution starting to other major Indian cities, and set up experience centres and charging stations there.
There are also plans to expand to Southeast Asia and Europe, where customers are already inquiring about the Emflux One.
Made in India, But Featuring World-Class Technology
Emflux’s initiatives come at a time when the Indian government is bullish on electric mobility prospects in India. Earlier in March, the second phase of FAME was approved by the Indian government with an outlay of INR 10,000 Cr ($1.4 Bn) to be invested over a period of three years. According to the central government scheme for electric vehicles, FAME II, automobile companies have to ensure 50% localisation of production parts in their assembly line.
As a part of this scheme, the government has proposed to support 10 lakh two-wheelers, 5 lakh three-wheelers, 55K four-wheelers, and 7K buses, powered by lithium-ion batteries or other electrical batteries. As with any EV company in India, Emflux is also looking to avail the Indian government’s incentives for companies in this field.
When asked about procuring local parts for its superbike, Mital said Emflux imports some parts from abroad, while building its own tech platform for mechanics and electrical components. It imports components from Italian parts manufacturer Brembo, suspension units from Sweden-based Ohlins, tyres from Pirelli, battery cells from South Korea’s LG and Samsung. Further, Electronic components like microcontrollers and MOSFETs are also imported, while mechanical and electronic components in the Emflux One have been completely designed and manufactured by Emflux in India.
As far as distribution is concerned, Emflux says it will go the online sales route, but is also planning to setup experience centres where potential customers can get a more traditional buying experience. “This [experience centre] is necessary to give customers an experience of electric superbikes as very few have ridden and felt the performance of EVs in the Indian market,” Khatry said.
Can Electric Superbikes Make An Impact in India?
The two-wheeler market is still a major growth area for automobile companies in India, despite slowdown in the domestic market. While companies are banking on exports for their revenue targets, electric vehicles are expected to grow at a faster pace thanks to infrastructural development as well as increasing penetration.
According to a report by FAME, currently, there are 29 OEMs selling electric vehicles in India and currently, almost every two-wheeler company is working towards developing its line of electric vehicles, if they don’t, they will be left behind in the Indian automotive market. Plus, there’s competition from established EV companies in China, including from big brands such as Xiaomi.
Emflux Motors faces stiff competition across the globe. For instance, one of the most notable players in this segment is California-based Lightning Motors. The company’s electric superbike LS-218 outpaces the Emflux One with a rated top speed of 218 miles per hour or 350.8 Kmph.
Italy-based Energica Motor Company’s electric superbike Energica EGO accelerates from 0 to 100 Kmph in three seconds, and has a top speed at 150 mph (214 Kmph), just like the Emflux One.
While Emflux has the advantage of being a first of its kind in India, it will be facing tough competition from international brands as it looks to expand its services beyond India. These companies are already established and have the infrastructure in their markets to flourish. In order to be able to compete with these vehicles, Emflux will have to first win the confidence of the India users.
Though Indian users are getting more and more familiar with electric vehicles, the issues related to charging infrastructure and range anxiety remain an obstacle, which is why Emflux is making a risky bet with its electric superbike vision.