We have had companies in India going from just ideas on a sheet of paper to establishing their own facilities in a matter of time. Most of them talk about electrification (since it is the way ahead) and have loft plans too. Amidst all this, if we tell you, there has been a start-up company that has been in existence since 2003 and hasn't got any product in the market till now, you will scoff at the thought. Of course we will be lying if we told you that we didn't too. However, when you speak with AR Karthigeyan, one of the founders, you realise the passion that the company has. AR says that, "For us, Blacksmith Electric isn't about only earning money. It is to enable people to embrace electric vehicle technology easily." The company filed their first electric vehicle patent in India in 2006. This was way before Tesla had launched their cars. Come to think of it, Tesla is now considered the pioneer for electric vehicles worldwide.
You will be curious to know what this patent is all about. It was for an electric bike that can also be charged by the wind. Yes, you read that right! Blacksmith Electric has already made three prototypes since then and the last one will most likely make it to production. 2020 will be the year when Blacksmith Electric debuts their first production electric bike called the B2 (the name could change). The company claims that their last prototype has seen several exhibition rounds and also more than 7,000km of testing on public roads.
Before talking about the product itself, let's quickly check the facts, shall we? Why will you buy an electric motorcycle that comes from a relatively unknown vehicle maker? The answer to the question lies in the fact that Blacksmith Electric has done its groundwork well. It wants to set up dealerships as well as many other charging stations before the product is unveiled. At present, AR says that the company has received several inquiries for the same too. Most of the exhibitions where the prototypes were showcased, also have generated a positive response. In fact, there are many foreign companies that are keen on investing as well as want this product for their respective markets.
What or who are the investors backing this project? At the moment, AR didn't specify this. However, given the time period that they have been operational, it is but fair that there is a sustainable business model in place.
The company also has a patent for swappable batteries. While Revolt Motors and Kymco-22 Motors before it may have made gala announcements on the same, Blacksmith Electric claims that their patents have been infringed. A counter claim has already been filed for the same. Blacksmith also claims that they are the first ones to have designed a motorcycle from ground-up. The usual method is to retrofit an electric powertrain to an existing vehicle. The fact that this vehicle looks, erm...a bit different than what we are used to seeing so far corroborates the fact.
If you are looking for the range and other details, this story will help you out. The AI bit has been explained in the video below. It will basically have a stop signal as well as u-turn indication integrated. The stop signal itself will have traffic lights on it that will be linked. This will ensure that other road users are well aware of where and when to stop as well. This electric bike also comes with a reverse gear, if you haven't noticed the length of this thing. Moreover, the conventional key has been given a skip and instead a switch might be used to start the bike.
From the look if it, the motorcycle seems almost ready. Whether we as a customer will like it or not remains to be seen. The final puzzle in the jigsaw is the pricing. Blacksmith, at the moment are not putting a number but we believe with so much tech on-board, the bike could be priced around the Rs 2 lakh mark. Include the FAME II benefits and things could look even more rosy.
Post the launch of the B2, Blacksmith will invest its time in making an electric scooter.