The country is increasingly focussing on cleaner mobility solutions such as electric vehicles (EVs) that are gaining momentum at a steady clip
And across vehicle segments, the electric scooter space in India is intensifying with a plethora of start-ups readying themselves to offer new energy solutions. Goa-based Kabira Mobility is one such player that is looking to address the country’s cleaner mobility aspirations, as it recently unveiled as many as five electric scooters and one electric motorcycle at the Auto Expo 2020. Auto Tech Review caught up with Jaibir Singh Siwach, CEO, Kabira Mobility, to understand how it intends to be an active participant of the Indian EV ecosystem among others.
Formed in 2017, Kabira Mobility hopped onto the e-scooter bandwagon, rolling out five electric scooters – Kollegio, Kollegio Neo, Kollegio Plus, Intercity and Intercity Neo at the Auto Expo 2020 in February this year. The arrival of Kabira Mobility in the e-scooter space comes at a time when there is intense competition with many established names jostling to capture market share. But the company appears to have done its homework well by focussing on a space that has remained largely unaddressed in the country – serving the college-going students segment.
According to Siwach, there is a strong need for an affordable electric solution that can meet the requirements of college-going students or high school students to some extent, who desire to travel over a limited distance from point A to point B, in terms of going to college and returning home.
Range anxiety has invariably posed a huge concern in the nascent Indian EV space, but Kabira Mobility insists it has accorded high focus to this aspect and ensured there is no range stress. The slow-speed electric scooters, especially Kollegio, Kollegio Neo and Kollegio Plus, are ideal for college-going students, whose daily mandate is to travel 10-20 km. This effectively means that even if owners miss out on charging for three-four days, they don’t have to be disturbed about range anxiety as these scooters with over 80 km-plus range (on a single charge) will address their charging needs, explained Siwach.
Interestingly, Kabira Mobility offers lithium-ion as well as lead-acid battery options for its electric scooters. Siwach said the objective is to ensure customers become friendly with electric scooters by making them affordable. The company said college-going students would be better-off leveraging lead acid battery-powered electric scooters, while e-commerce players such as Amazon, BigBasket, Flipkart and Grofers would be well served leveraging lithium-ion battery-powered electric scooters.
Of course, globally there is a huge push for modern battery technologies such as lithium-ion and Kabira Mobility does not want to be seen as promoting lead acid batteries. Siwach said it will be the market forces that will ultimately determine which battery technology will be a mainstay and no one solution can solve the market needs.
All of the company’s electric scooters are powered by Brushless Direct Current (BLDC) hub motor that ensures enhanced power and lower maintenance. These BLDC hub motors deliver power ranging from 250 W to 2,000 W across its product range. The company is sourcing these motors from its parent company Delta EV, which possesses considerable expertise in manufacturing electric motors for EVs.
There is never-ending talk about the concept of battery swapping in the country. Kabira Mobility seems to have warmed up to this idea, offering battery swapping options for its electric scooters. To be more precise, the battery swapping option is offered on scooters powered by lithium-ion battery, not by lead acid battery as the latter is heavy and is cumbersome to swap, Siwach pointed out.
The company has not limited its offerings to electric scooters alone – it is betting big on electric motorcycles as well, having already rolled out the lithium-ion battery-powered KM 3000 that offers a range of 80 km on a single charge. Further, Kabira Mobility is all geared up to roll out the KM 4000 that will offer a range of over 120 km on a single charge. It is expected to hit the market in the coming months.
On the electric vehicle ecosystem front, Kabira Mobility has no doubts that large-scale awareness must be built around electric solutions before it can be a success story in India. Creating awareness campaigns on an aggressive scale about the benefits of using EVs such as better total cost of ownership over ICE vehicles can go a long way in electric solutions emerging as mass market products, observed the Kabira Mobility CEO.
There have been diverse views about the roll-out of the FAME II Scheme. Kabira Mobility feels that although the scheme is a big motivation for the country’s EV push, efforts must be undertaken to facilitate a single window system for all kinds of paper clearances, stated Siwach.
The company operates three manufacturing facilities – one at Goa and two at Dharwad in Karnataka. The Goa plant manufactures the slow speed e-scooters such as Kollegio, Kollegio Neo and Kollegio Plus, while the plants at Dharwad manufactures Intercity, Intercity Neo and KM 3000 electric motorcycle. The EV start-up also has lined up plans to add a fourth facility by December 2020 and aims to expand its total installed capacity to 125,000 e-scooters per month.
TEXT: Suhrid Barua