Entire world is going green and even automobile companies are reinventing themselves to come up with electric motorcycle and other vehicles or green vehicles to contribute themselves for the greener environment as a part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.
The increasing pollution levels and carbon monoxide content in the air too is worrying all the right thinking people, NGOs and governments across the world. Despite all this, till now India hasn’t seen a single green motor cycle launch as yet.
But in a surprise development, India’s first e-bike launch could be from a little known company rather than renowned automobile giants like Bajaj, Honda, Yamaha, Suziki and Kawasaki.
Backed by the founders of Ola ( Bhavish Agarwal and Ankit Bhati) and Engineering giant Bharat Forge, Tork is coming with the initiative to capture the open, nascent and highly profitable market. But still, high prices, charging infrastructure and immature component manufacturing remain the most challenging and critical hurdles.
Tork is keen to create a history and the question is does the organisation has the wherewithal to embark on the success mission. Kapil Shelke found Tork in 2009 and since then it made a rapid progress in the automobile industry. Tork focussed on creating practical electric mobility solutions in India. Tork proved its mettle by finishing third at the prestigious Mecca of Electric Racing, The Isle of Man TT and even won the prestigious awards at the World’s premier electric motorsport racfe series, TTXGP.
Kapil Shelke speaking about Tork and how the investments are managed in the organisation says ‘This is an aspirational brand for India. We do not consider ourselves as a regular OEM. Rather, we look at ourselves as a consumer oriented business. This makes scaling up easier than other commercial automotive part providers. Yes , we agree that it is a little capital intensive, but our experienced engineering team is helping us break through these challenges’
Tork too faces similar challenges faced by India’s first smart electric scooter Ather. Ather ran short of funds in 2014 and received only $1 million from Sachin and Binny Bansal, founders of Flipkart. It managed to get another $12 million from Tiger Global. Tarun Mehta, co founder of Ather says that the investors were not keen to take the risk on the idea of building a smart Indian electric scooter. Even many renowned companies are finding it as a big barrier to venture into the unknown market full of risks.
The delay in the implementation of National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 by the then Government of India in 2013 too affected the number of electric two wheeler manufacturers. Their number came down drastically from 28 to just 7 in couple of years. Sale of e-vehicles too reduced drastically from 100000 to just 16000.
But market is booming again with the Government targeting 100 GW of solar by 2022 planning to put seven million electric and hybrid vehicles on road everyyear by 2020. Other players in e vehicles include Mahindra E 20, Yo Bykes based out of Gujarat , Hero RNT Diesel Hybrid scooter, Hero Splendor i-Smart, Hero Leap, Mahindra GenZe, TVSQube, Hyosung ST E3 EVA.
Kapil Shelke, after graduating from DY Patil College of Engineering, Pune in 2005 evolved his college project into Tork Motorcycles, India’s first electric motorcycle company. In 2009 he managed to put a prototype along with three of his colleagues in the final year of their college. Shelke later spent few years with electric motor cycle racing team backed by a large Chinese two wheeler manufacturer Zongshen. He surviving on vegetarian food ,rice and noodles explodred the electric mother cycle eco system which was non existent in India at that time.
Finally after working on a project to build an electric mother cycle which looked like a regular petrol bike, decided to turn Tork Motrcycle into a commercial venture in 2015.