Multimodality is a form of transportation that is witnessing increasing adoption across markets, especially in semi-urban and urban areas that grapple with congestion and pollution-related issues
Electric vehicles (EV) are an effective method to address these challenges for mass transit or for first/last mile transportation. Bengaluru-based Yulu claims to be the country’s largest EV company from the perspective of micro mobility. Auto Tech Review caught up with Amit Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO, Yulu (Top), and Naveen Dachuri, Co-Founder & CTO, Yulu (Bottom), to get the company’s perspective about shared mobility, vehicle connectivity as well as its future plans.
Yulu is also focussing on localising its products, aimed at further enhancing micro mobility with indigenously-manufactured electric vehicles. All its vehicles are equipped with IoT devices that not only send out information about the vehicle location, but also provide other key information such as battery life, range, and GPS signal strength, among others. These IoT devices communicate with the company’s server over a standard Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
Yulu’s EV, called Miracle, is equipped with a single version of IoT device, whereas the bicycles feature multiple versions. Yulu has built its back-end system to adapt to any form of IoT device, as long as it is following the same set of protocol, explained Dachuri. The system is designed to be auto-scalable so that it can handle the addition of many more IoT devices in future.
The customer app is one aspect of the Yulu platform. However, the core is about how the IoT devices send out information to the server. There is an additional app that is not exposed and is used for operations, and this secondary app provides the company’s field executives with a lot of vehicle information. The combination of information received from the customer app along with vehicle data shared via the IoT devices on to the secondary app, enables Yulu to run its operations efficiently, Dachuri noted.
Based on the experiences and knowledge gained over the past couple of years, Yulu is now developing its own IoT device that will be deployed across all its vehicles. This IoT device will be generic, secure and robust, essentially focussed on shared mobility. Two factors are essential in IoT devices – size/ form factor and the control capabilities. The company’s new device has been designed with the option of offering connectivity of multiple peripheral devices, which will then provide it the flexibility of adding more features easily, said Dachuri. This same IoT device can also be used on Yulu’s charging station now; thus, making it common for all types of vehicles that it may scale up to offer in the future.
The company currently offers two products – Move bicycle and Miracle low-speed, single-seater EV. The company has not manufactured the Miracle EV, but has had an active voice in its design process. Yulu did not want to go with a standard product that was already available, but rather designed this EV from ground-up keeping its own requirements in mind, noted Gupta. The Miracle EV offers a maximum speed of 25 km/h, keeping in line with regulations that enable the vehicles to be free of registration or use of helmets. It has a power rating of 1 kW, with 48 V and 20 Ah power systems.
Other unique features include solid wheels, unibody anti-theft frame, low use of plastic and no display. The display for the EV is the Yulu smartphone app, which provides information such as range, navigation and alerts. These characteristics ensure that the vehicle offers a unique advantage in terms of low maintenance, noted Gupta. In terms of the geometry of the Miracle EV, the vehicle has been designed to ensure users of various sizes can use it comfortably, thereby enhancing multi-user capability. The Miracle is not aimed at long-distance, but rather focussed on first/ last-mile connectivity with a range of 5-6 km, he noted.
Yulu has partnered with a Chinese manufacturer for its Miracle EVs, but is looking to localise the product by working with local partners for the manufacture of components in India. Besides a couple of components, all others can be manufactured in India, informed Gupta. With regards to localisation, the company is focussing on supply chain efficiency, with optimum price and quality. Quality is non-negotiable, with the company being fine with paying a premium in the initial stage, which in a steady state should converge to improved cost-optimisation, Gupta noted.
Yulu is also carrying out R&D focussed on charging stations, since it is its core business due to the swapping model it operates on. While the company is grappling with various challenges, its objective is to charge any of its vehicles through standard 5 or 15 A plug. In addition, the company is also specifically designing vehicles to adhere to battery swapping technologies, which is more viable for shared EV mobility.
TEXT: Naveen Arul