Simple Energy is an EV start-up based out of Bengaluru, and from what we hear, the company’s first electric scooter will have best-in-class features and range, and has been completely designed and produced in-house. Speaking to carandbike in a candid conversation, Suhas Rajkumar, Founder and CEO of Simple Energy, said that the first electric scooter from his company will definitely disrupt the EV market. Called the Mark 2 in prototype form, the new electric scooter boasts of a range of 240 km on a single charge in Eco mode, and will have a top speed of 100 kmph, and will also come with several best-in-class features.
Excerpts from an interaction:
carandbike: How and when did Simple Energy come into existence?
Suhas Rajkumar, Founder & CEO, Simple Energy: The idea of an electric vehicle start-up came about in 2018, but we accidentally ventured into the EV industry. In late 2018, I had shut down my robotics start-up, and at the same time, got inspired by the developments in the EV industry. Tesla came about in a big way, and was a definite inspiration, and there was this desire to develop green technology and to push towards better technology. Around that time, my father wanted to buy a scooter, and while I pushed for an electric scooter, we never found the perfect EV which could replace a conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) scooter; the same point of view was shared by many close friends and relatives.
At the same time, the EV industry was mostly Chinese at that time. With my background in electronics, I devised a problem statement with the solution, and with 6-7 months of research, I had a fair enough idea about the market size and opportunities. By January 2019, the ball had started rolling, and we had a 9-member core group who started work on the first prototype, the Mark 1. We worked out of my100 square feet garage, and all the savings and cash investments that we could do, went into resources and software. In fact, the first core group, no one was paid for one year. And finally, we were ready with the Mark 1 in January 2020.
carandbike: So, what is the size of the team today, and where is Simple Energy today?
Suhas Rajkumar, Founder & CEO, Simple Energy: The first prototype that we developed had a 200 km range in Eco mode, which is between 30-40 kmph speed. And we were very clear about what we wanted to build. I’ve been passionate about automobiles, both cars and bikes, since my teenage days, and have always believed that we should have an indigenous design. When we built Mark 1, the team had grown to 19 members, and once we had the proof of concept, investors came along. Today, we have a 50-member team, and five angel investors, and we’re in the middle of raising Series A funding of $15 million.
carandbike: What are the differentiators of your product, and your company?
Suhas Rajkumar, Founder & CEO, Simple Energy: We were very clear that we wanted to solve range anxiety of our customer, and we also wanted the design to stand out, the technology to be state-of-the-art. So far, automotive design in India has always looked to Europe as the design benchmark, and even the technology is inspired from Europe and Japan. We wanted to establish an Indian company that will do all those things that a foreign company can do, and maybe even do better than them. The idea was to not just solve range anxiety, but to solve the whole ecosystem around an EV.
carandbike: Your story sounds a lot familiar to a very well-received Indian player in the electric two-wheeler space, and that company, Ather Energy, has created new benchmarks as well. So, who are your primary competitors then?
Suhas Rajkumar, Founder & CEO, Simple Energy: The Ather 450X is our primary competition. What Ather Energy has done is absolutely amazing, there’s no doubt about that. But everyone wants to be the best. Our product will only bring new benchmarking in the EV industry. We design our own product, build our own powertrain, and for the batteries, only the cells are sourced from South Korea and Taiwan. We want to attract domestic talent, the best designers, the best engineers, to aspire and come work with us. We want to be the very best.
carandbike: What can the customer expect from your product? And where are you currently at, in terms of launch timelines, footprint and production capacities?
Suhas Rajkumar, Founder & CEO, Simple Energy: The launch of our product actually got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are late by at least four months. The product will be a disruptive electric scooter, and it will offer the customer a lot. First, it will offer 240 km range, and it will have best-in-class boot space, much better than the competition, and ample leg room. It will have good ergonomics, good ground clearance, and a good suspension system. On the smart features side, you can expect everything including a big, 7-inch touchscreen, and it will be cloud-connected, as well as offer Bluetooth connectivity, music playback, and the user can receive calls. Overall, it will be a user-friendly interface and will offer better navigation than what our competitors are offering.
Our electric scooter is designed using Dassault Systemes’ SOLIDWORKS applications. This software offers mechanical design, electrical design and plastics design capability and the freedom to develop a product which has better all-round quality. The software in fact supports real-world testing, and Dassault supplied this same software to every other EV company.
We are at an advanced stage of production of our electric scooter. We intend to start deliveries between September to November 2021, first in Bengaluru, and then within the next quarter, we intend to expand our presence to four cities. And we will also have our own charging network, which we call the Matrix. The Matrix will be free of cost to our customers, but can also be used by other EV owners; so basically any electric scooter or electric car can use our Matrix network to charge. The pricing for our product will be value for money, and we will offer customer-friendly plans.