[Interview] Fast, furious & electric? Emflux Motors is building India’s first ‘electric superbike’.
Why Read This?
- Learn about the fledgling two-wheeler EV space in India.
- Find out about Bengaluru based EV startup Emflux Motors which is building India’s first ‘electric superbike’ with a claimed top speed of 200 kmph.
While most electric vehicle startups globally, and in India, are concerning themselves with solving purely the functional problems of commuting and short distance intra-city travel, Bengaluru-based EV startup Emflux Motors has chosen to go a little offroad. Founded in 2016, Emflux Motors have set themselves about tackling the more rarified desire of those who ride for pleasure, speed and an adrenaline rush (Indian roads might be inclined to blush here) – superbike enthusiasts.
The Emflux ONE, Emflux Motors’ ‘electric superbike’, is claimed to go from 0 to 100 kmph in 3 seconds, with a top speed of 200 km/h along with a range of 200 km on a full charge. If those numbers weren’t impressive enough, the bike also boasts custom performance biking parts from brands like Ohlins, Pirelli and Brembo which are commonplace on traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) superbikes.
While the Emflux ONE is still in a pre-production prototype phase (expected launch in late 2020 in limited numbers), we figured it would be worthwhile to learn more and caught up with Ankit Khatry, COO & Co-founder, Emflux Motors for a chat about the bike, the team behind it, and the challenges in building an electric superbike as a startup in India.
For those who’re unaware, could you give us a short intro to Emflux Motors and its history?
Emflux Motors was founded in August 2016 by the confluence of a common vision shared by three guys from very different backgrounds – myself, Varun Mittal and Vinay Raj Somashekar. Emflux aims to build products and services which are desirable, meaningful, and come with zero compromise on the quality and the vision they are based on. These qualities are willed into the avatar of our first product – The Emflux ONE – an electric superbike that is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.0 sec, has a top speed of 200 km/h, and a city range of 200 km on a full charge.
How did you hit upon the idea of performance biking in the EV space and what were the initial challenges?
The whole idea of building a high performance vehicle was to demonstrate the tremendous potential of electric technology not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of ruggedness, reliability, and of course, range.
The performance bike segment also is seeing a high rate of growth in India. These reasons coupled with the fact that the high cost of Li-Ion cells wouldn’t make economic sense for us is what drove us to build a full-blown Electric Superbike instead of a run of the mill commuter or some semi high-performance motorcycle.
Tell us a little about the Emflux One.
Emflux One is an electric superbike and a flagship product of Emflux. It’s insane acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 3.0 sec coupled with a top speed of 200 km/h and a city range of 200 km should rest any and all apprehensions that people may have about electric vehicles.
Our technologies are indigenously developed in order to get better integration and full control over the bike which will increase its efficiency and deliver better performance overall.
While many of the parts in the bike are sourced from leading names, you have also built a number of components in-house, like the EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). Tell us about those.
Barring the Brembo brakes, the Ohlins suspension, Pirelli tyres, some small accessories, and the individual Li-Ion 18650 cells, every single component on the Emflux ONE has been conceptualized, designed, and engineered in-house.
This includes the entire styling design, the mechanical structure, the motor, the drivetrain, the battery pack, and all the technologies such as the BMS, the Motor Controller, the Charger Circuit, the Master Controller, and also the wall-mount charger or EVSE. These technologies can be up-scaled or down-scaled to fit any sort of EV. In fact, we are finalizing talks with several OEMs as well as EV start-ups for design and development of their technology, mechanical, and styling design.
Where are you currently at in terms of manufacturing and launch?
Our pre-production prototypes are undergoing rigorous testing on our test-benches and out in the real world. We have achieved 70-80% of our claimed acceleration figures during our test runs of the newest prototype.
The production-ready version of the bike should be ready mid-next year, and following homologation and certification, we should be able to deliver the first Emflux ONE to our customer in 15 months.
What changes to the standard electric two-wheeler engineering stack does the performance biking aspect entail?
There are minor changes to the architecture of the vehicle, but as such, the stack is quite similar. Obviously we have had to design each and every component for much higher current and voltage levels.
For example, our motor and motor controller is rated for twice the voltage and five times the current of the best electric scooter available in India. Also our motor peaks at 16,000 RPM which is much faster than any other two-wheeler.
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How do you intend to position, market & service the bike considering the premium price tag? Would it be via the traditional route of setting up showrooms or something else?
We have received overwhelming responses to our social media posts and in emails from the people of our country as well as outside the country.
We will be having an experience center in Bangalore, followed by other metro cities. A customer can walk into our experience center and know more about the bike. Some customers can test our bike on track days (invitation only) which we will have across different cities. Purchases would be completely online through our website via digital payment methods.
Our bike will require minimal service, and any services required will be done at the customer’s home or at any place that the customer chooses.
Your vision statement mentions that you would like to become a technology and component supplier to OEMs. In that context, is the Emflux One somewhat of a proof-of-concept? Is the long term plan to strengthen & license your technology IPs?
The Emflux ONE will be our first full-blown product for the world. The key strategy is to create a high-end product in order to create a brand image as well as to support initial production capabilities, following which, we will introduce higher volume mid-segment products into the market. We are finalizing talks with several OEMs as well as EV start-ups for design and development of their technology, mechanicals, and styling design. Maybe in the future, we can see the market of components supplier as an opportunity, but we will have a separate subsidiary for that. Emflux will only cater to the premium electric bikes segment.
Tell us about your rather funky looking ‘Master Controller’. What ‘smart’ features and information can a rider expect from it?
The dashboard will be based on what we showcased in Auto Expo’18 but will have a much cleaner, more intuitive, and better designed interface. Apart from the standard smart features that are available on most smart EVs today, we will have some very cool and useful features which will set our bike apart. We want our users to have a better riding experience than any bike out there in the market today.
What’s your take on the government’s current policies towards the EV ecosystem?
The category for Emflux One will not fall under FAME subsidies for now. However, the good thing about the policy is that the Indian government is supporting hardware manufacturers. It will help India grow as a full-fledged automobile manufacturer and cement its position as one of the leading nations in the world in this regard.
How do you see the two-wheeler EV segment in India playing out over the next few years?
Even though there are a lot of EV startups in India doing incredible development work, lack of funding is hindering their growth. We believe that, ultimately, one or two startups will succeed in becoming OEMs over the next 10 years.
We feel that the EV market will play out like the mobile phone market and Chinese EV startups will give tough competition to the established OEMs in India. As far as we know about the internal EV programs of these OEMs, they have a lot of catching up to do.
What’s next for Emflux Motors?
We are progressing well in terms of in-house R&D, however, lack of funding is slowing down our progress considerably. Should we overcome this obstacle, the launch of our products will be in phases. The Emflux One will be limited to 200 numbers for India. The Emflux Two, a mid-performance two-wheeler, is being designed for higher volume manufacturing and sales. In parallel, we have started selling different EV components and products that we have made for ourselves. These include our Automated Spot Welder (used to spot weld nickel strips to battery cells to make battery packs), a Cell Penetration Test Bench, Two-wheeler EV Dynamometer, Wall Mounted and Portable EVSEs which are more cost-effective and better in many aspects than products available in the market. We are looking to sell these products to other startups and established companies.