India happens to be the world’s largest two-wheeler market so it is safe to assume that if one were to electrify the segment, it’ll have a substantial boost on the country’s EV ambitions. However, so far most of the electric two-wheelers sold here are low-speed vehicles which means they won’t go above 25 km/h and most of these come from China. On the other hand, the electric scooters that have demonstrated competence carry price tags a tad too big. And in both scenarios, riding range continues to be a worry.
We’ve come to know of a new startup called Simple Energy which claims to have addressed all these concerns – range, price, convenience, and no inputs from China. Based in Bengaluru, Simple Energy was incorporated in January 2019.
The Simple electric scooter boasts 79-85% local components and lithium-ion battery cells are imported from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The core comprises of hands that have previously worked with Ather Energy, Ultraviolette Automotive, and Tork Motors. We spoke with Suhas Rajkumar, Founder, Simple Energy, to learn more about his ambition and promise to deliver on the claims.
Describing his approach to the business, Suhas states that he’s only focussing on what a customer wants from a scooter. He underlines that scooter space is a very price-sensitive segment and a price difference of a few thousand can alter decisions. This is why the scooter needs to have a long riding range on one charge, charging should be easy, and the acquisition cost should not be a burden.
Citing an example, Suhas says that a traditional scooter, for example Honda Activa, would cost a customer Rs 95,000-98,000 and deliver a 250 km range. Simple Mark 2, he adds, will not be priced more than Rs 1.1 lakh. The is still more than an ICE scooter but three years’ worth of fuel would cost the owner Rs 50,000, but only Rs 4,000 worth of electricity for the Simple scooter.
Simple Mark 2 gets 4.2 kWh of usable capacity delivering 9.4 hp of peak power output and 72 Nm of torque. It’ll have three ride modes – Eco, Normal, and Sports with a top speed of 35-40 kph in Eco mode and 100 kph in Sports mode. It’ll do 0-50 kph in 3.2 seconds which makes it quicker than Ather 450X. The claimed riding range in each mode is as follows: Eco- 260 km, Normal – 220 km, Sport – 180 km.
The battery pack weighs in at just 6 kg and is portable with charging times of 0-80% (home charging) in 40 minutes, 0-100% (home charging) in 1 hour 05 minutes, and 0-50% (fast charging) in 20 minutes. Not to mention, the Mark 2 will offer smart features like Bluetooth and Internet-connectivity.
Simple Energy aims to attain 50,000 production capacity by the end of July 2021. The startup will set up experience centres, partner with dealerships, make the scooters available online (Amazon & Flipkart) with college students and IT sector office goers as its target audience.
Simple Mark 2 will be followed by the launch of a low-scale scooter model for tier 2 and 3 cities with a less elaborate list of features. It is also working on a mid-range electric bike and plans to indulge in long-range electric car sales eventually.
Keeping his ideology very realistic to the goal of vehicle electrification, Suhas opines that low-cost but low-speed rebadged Chinese electric scooters, instead of benefitting EV adoption, are in fact harming consumer perspective towards electric scooters as being low on quality and convenience. Simple Energy products will be a marriage between a good price and features, he adds.
The launch plan
Simple Energy plans to launch the Mark 2 electric scooter in February this year beginning with Bengaluru and Mumbai. ARAI certifications have been halted due to the pandemic and will be back online in December this year when Simple will work on it. So far, the scooter is expected to be called Mark 2, subject to whether it can be trademarked. Test rides for the scooter will begin soon.
Having gone through the specifications of the Mark 2, it rather appears to be too good to be true. But Simple Energy reveals to us details like a 10-year contract with Panasonic for battery cells, 15,000-km testing for the BMS (battery management system), two years of R&D on the battery pack, and economies of scale to keep a check on the price. All this supported by the 24-year-old founder’s enthusiasm and a realistic approach to matters might just give us an electric scooter that actually checks all the right boxes.