Bengaluru-based startup Technovos is hell-bent on electrifying heavy-duty machines, vehicles and equipment that ply on petrol and diesel
In its endeavour, Technovos has developed an electric wheelbarrow that promises to not only enable easy transportation of materials in labour-intensive industries but also help curb pollution, both air and noise
With hyperlocal sustainable mobility as its core focus, the startup is also building an electric mini excavator
Electrification is not the next big thing. In fact, it is happening right now and at a scale never fathomed before. At the centre of this transition is the seriousness of many industry players who want to curb the use of biofuels, to a degree that the sectors that rely heavily on non-renewable sources of energy are aiming to change the current equation once and for all.
Up until now, we have seen an array of vehicle manufacturers — two-wheelers, three-wheelers, four-wheelers and even trucks, and buses — undergoing the electric way and households harnessing the potential of this Sun-rich country.
However, the biggest laggards of this adoption have been India’s construction and agriculture vehicle manufacturing folks, which, to date, continue to make diesel-guzzling vehicles and machines in the absence of any innovative disruptions.
Spearheading this change is Bengaluru-based startup Technovos Machinery, which is hell-bent on electrifying heavy-duty machines, vehicles, and equipment run on petrol and diesel.
Founded in 2019 by Bharath Anantha and Dr Archana Ram Prasad, Technovos ideates, designs, integrates and builds solutions for industry segments such as construction and industrial and heavy engineering.
The startup, which has recently embarked on its electric journey, also manufactures operator cabins, fuel tanks, hydraulic tanks, fabricated chassis for LCVs, and crushing equipment, and more.
In its endeavour, Technovos has developed an electric wheelbarrow that promises to not only enable easy transportation of materials in labour-intensive industries but also help curb pollution, both air and noise, and eliminate the dependence of such machines on fossil fuels.
Speaking with Inc42, the founder and CEO of the startup, Anantha, said, “India is largely dependent on China for imported electric material handling equipment and ICE-operated equipment. With more players like us entering the space, the country can tap a global wheelbarrow market of $828.4 Mn by the end of 2031.”
Besides helping curb air pollution, the startup has plans to offer more silent products (farm and construction machines, vehicles and equipment) that operate under the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) maximum permissible limit of 75 decibels during the daytime in industrial zones and 50 decibels in silence zones.
Technovos claims that its electric wheelbarrows produce noise below 20 decibels and the noise generated from its upcoming electric mini excavator ranges between 50 and 60 decibels.
Technovos’ Initial Hiccups
Established in 2019 as a limited liability partnership (LLP) company, which turned into a private limited entity in 2022, Technovos developed its electric wheelbarrow in January 2022.
Speaking with Inc42, Anantha said that the idea of manufacturing electric wheelbarrows was suggested by one of its clients Tata Coffee to meet environmental compliance.
It was then that Technovos started developing its electric wheelbarrow, GaadE, which has a standard payload of 500 kg and comes with a dimension of 2100mm(L) x 1300mm(W) x 1260mm(H).
“Since we were manufacturing the hydraulic wheelbarrows in the market, we had the use cases and vehicle specifications ready. It was just a matter of sourcing the electric powertrain. However, with time we also realised the need for other EV-specific components that would suit our electric applications and requirements. Hence we had to reverse-engineer many things including the electric motor and drive axle,” Anantha explained.
Currently, the vehicles are undergoing trials and testing to become market ready. Technovos has already done its vehicle demonstrations at Bengaluru International Airport, Bangalore Metro, and other such places.
Although the company is in the final stages of receiving orders, it has a few gaps to address.
Currently, GaadE offers a range of 10 km per charge with lead-acid batteries. Given that Bengaluru International Airport requires higher battery capacity and range, the startup is now looking to use lithium-ion batteries in its vehicles and is in talks with some of the major lithium-ion battery manufacturers in the country to increase the vehicle range to 50 km per charge.
Bootstrapped so far, Technovos is looking to raise INR 20 Cr in the coming days to enable and fast-track the manufacturing of its vehicles.
The company plans to sell at least 50 electric wheelbarrows this year, with Bengaluru International Airport expected to order at least 20 to 22 machines. Technovos has also approached government bodies like Karnataka State Warehousing Corporation, the textile ministry, and Indian Railways.
What’s On The Cards?
With hyperlocal sustainable mobility as its core focus, Technovos is also building an electric mini excavator, which has the potential to challenge the market leaders such as L&T, JCB, Tata, and XCMG, among others.
Anantha said that the company has already sourced the components to build the excavator but is awaiting external fund infusion to initiate the final manufacturing and integration.
In fact, excavators are also not new to Technovos. It has already built a diesel-powered 2.3-ton mini excavator, which is completely manufactured and assembled in India, the cofounder claimed.
The vehicle was launched at the Excon 2022 event in Bengaluru.
Besides, the company also plans to transform some of its electric wheelbarrows into autonomous vehicles so that they can be used in places like the Bhava Atomic Research Centre, which deals with radioactive materials.
The Bengaluru-based startup’s electric wheelbarrow also has use cases in areas like construction and mining, warehouses, waste management facilities, and agriculture, which are labour-intensive sectors.
Meanwhile, with external fund infusions, Technovos is also eyeing manufacturing electric all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
However, one of the biggest differentiators for the company, with respect to the EV OEMs in India today, is its plan to tap smaller manufacturing facilities across the country for the manufacturing of these vehicles.
While Technovos currently has one manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, which can produce 50-100 units of electric wheelbarrows per month, it does not intend to invest in building more soon.
“We have already identified two island manufacturing facilities in the Southern region of India, and will be expanding that number in the coming years. This would not only help Technovos burn less cash and focus on more vehicle designs and ideas but will also stand as an icon of truly sustainable manufacturing,” said Nanjunda Pratap Palecanda, the head of business strategy at Technovos.
Currently in the pre-revenue stage of its EV business, Technovos is hopeful about generating revenue by the end of FY24.
While the company has started getting initial enquiries for its electric wheelbarrow from markets in Dubai and the UAE, it wants to first focus on building its domestic market with at least 50-100 vehicles and then expand internationally.