How newcomer River plans to fill a gap in India’s competitive EV two-wheeler market – TechCrunch


Two-wheelers have lengthy been a cornerstone of life in India — their smaller dimension and affordability make these historically gasoline and diesel-powered automobiles a go-to technique of navigating the traffic-jammed streets of the nation’s most populous cities.

Now, a new startup known as River has come out of stealth with an electrical two-wheeler scooter — and accompanying subscription providers — designed to attraction to modern-day shoppers searching for an reasonably priced, but trendy, automobile that can be utilized for work, play and each activity in between.

River, based in late 2020 by Aravind Mani and Vipin George with $2 million in backing from Maniv Mobility and TrucksVC, has grown to 42 individuals in its brief life. Its small and rising staff, who hail from firms like Ather, Arai, Bosch, Honda, Ultraviolette and Vespa, have developed a prototype automobile that will probably be unveiled to shoppers later this yr.

Both founders even have expertise in two-wheeled transport. Mani, an engineer who as soon as labored in the petrochemicals trade earlier than switching to electrified transportation, was most not too long ago vice chairman of enterprise technique at Ultraviolette earlier than he left to kind River. George labored at Honda R&D in India for eight years, together with as head designer, and most not too long ago was design lead at Ultraviolette.

The pair wished a two-wheeler strong sufficient to be used as a instrument for work or some other activity whereas amping up the efficiency and magnificence to make it helpful and enjoyable for the entire different hours in the day.

“A parallel would be the truck culture in the United States; if you’re a carpenter or shop owner you have a truck, which you use to carry stuff and it’s also your primary mode of commute,” Mani mentioned. “We don’t have anything similar on the two-wheeler space in India, and that’s what we want to create.”

At the identical time, Mani famous the automobile additionally had to have character as a result of “in India it is still a status purchase that you want to show off to your friends; it is a first symbol that you have arrived in life for many people owning a two-wheeler.”

River front view of two wheeler electric vehicle

Image Credits: River

What they got here up with is a “multi-utility” two-wheeled electrical scooter codenamed the RX-1 that’s obtainable in a number of battery pack sizes that may journey between 100 km (62 miles) and 180 km (112 miles) on a single cost.

The automobile can speed up from zero to 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph) in 4 seconds and has a high velocity of 80 kmph (50 mph). And as a result of its important focus is as a multi-utility automobile, it has a payload of 200 kilograms, sufficient for a rider to carry packages.

The worth, which will depend on the battery pack, ranges between 80,000 INR ($1,070) and 100,000 INR ($1,337).

River’s launch comes at a fruitful but fiercely competitive second in India.

India’s authorities, eager to speed up the adoption of EVs in an effort to get away from polluting gasoline and diesel-powered automobiles, have elevated subsidies for electrical two-wheelers made in the nation. India’s Department of Heavy Industries now offers incentives that gives Rs 15,000 ($200) per kilowatt-hour. The cap on subsidies has additionally doubled to 40% of the value of the automobile.

At the identical time, there may be additionally an effort by e-commerce and supply firms, together with Flipkart, Swiggy and Zomato, to electrify fleets. Zomato plans to have EV-only fleets by the top of the last decade. Startup Swiggy introduced in August it could cover 800,000 kilometers (497,000 miles) day-after-day by way of electrical automobiles by 2025. In February, Walmart-owned Flipkart mentioned it could deploy greater than 25,000 electrical automobiles in its provide chain by 2030.

“About 60% to 70% of the country is self-employed and two-wheelers are a basic part of the Indian livelihood,” co-founder Aravind Mani mentioned in an interview, including that e-commerce has pushed progress with an estimated 14 million fleet supply riders in India in the present day. “COVID has actually accelerated this trend, and on-demand services are continuously increasing.”

These alternatives have fueled the launch of a whole lot of EV startups. There are greater than 470 EV firms registered in India, in accordance to March 2021 analysis notes from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

“The gold rush to capture this emerging opportunity has commenced,” the report from managing director and senior analyst Venugopal Garre mentioned. “A few will get acquired, several will perish, some will remain low-scale niche OEMs, but we think a few will scale up materially.”

River goes up towards greater and higher funded opponents like Ola Electric, Bounce and Aether Energy, in addition to dozens of smaller outfits. But River’s co-founders contend their new automobile and enterprise mannequin fills a gap in the market.

River plans to promote immediately to shoppers and supply a suite of subscription providers and an array of equipment that lets house owners customise their scooters and take away them as their wants change all through the day. Sales are anticipated to start in the second half of 2022.

The firm plans to supply charging, battery packs that may vary in dimension, upkeep and connectivity packages supplied by way of subscriptions. River is just not going to tackle the pricey activity of constructing out charging infrastructure. Instead, the corporate plans to function a charging franchise system. Mani mentioned the corporate is already engaged on a set of small companies which may purchase the automobiles and chargers and open up the chargers for public use.

River desires to promote its scooters immediately to companies like eating places, in addition to to fleet operators and even bigger e-commerce firms that may promote to shoppers.

The startup will assemble the scooters at what Mani described as “small-scale manufacturing facilities” that may turnout round 3,000 automobiles a month. If profitable, River desires to create a variety of these services all through India. Mani mentioned River has reached preliminary agreements with a number of suppliers, together with for the co-development and meeting of its battery packs.