Last year, the Central Indian government set the aspirational target of selling only electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 or having a large percentage of EVs on the road by then. There is some consensus in the auto industry that electrifying public transport and two and three-wheelers is critical to achieving India’s EV dream.
Close to 7,60,000 EVs were sold in India in FY19, out of which, 83 percent were three-wheelers and 16.4 percent were two-wheelers. While the likes of Ola Electric, Rapido, Vogo, Bounce, and Yulu focus on metros, two brothers and their micro manufacturing enterprises are placing their faith in bringing electric mobility to Bhopal and its neighbouring areas.
Anmol Bohre (29) and Alankrit Bohre (26), both computer science engineers, started EV manufacturing business Enigma Automobiles in October 2015. The EV company manufactures e-rickshaws and e-scooters with local manufacturing parts, thus offering them at 40 percent cheaper rates than their polluting counterparts.
Enigma offers a warranty up to three years on scooters and rickshaws, and the best part is that the vehicles can be recycled. Also, the green vehicles are water-proof and fire-resistant. Since its inception, the company has sold around 300 scooters and rickshaws each. They have a wide range of clients in three states, ranging from a vegetable vendor, PETA, to big companies like Top Town and iShares.
Inception Of Enigma
The story behind Enigma’s inception is an interesting story as well. It was not started as a dream project or an entrepreneurial drive. Instead, it came from the necessity to make eco-friendly transport alternatives after a visit to Delhi, one of the world’s most populated cities.
The brothers had separately started marketing and engineering companies earlier, but found the chemistry between themselves far greater and useful than that between regular business partners. On a visit to Delhi in 2015, they came across electric rickshaws with open doors. They were fascinated and intrigued to see rickshaws that made no noise and did not need petrol or diesel. Next thing they knew, they were researching e-vehicles in the Indian market. Green vehicles have an immense potential to bring about an ecological change in the automobile industry. That was their trigger to create a similar model.
Implementation Of Ideas
Electric vehicles have considerably fewer components and moving parts than vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE). To source these components, Anmol and Alankrit scoured the streets of Delhi. They looked everywhere for vendors and suppliers who were genuine and wouldn’t try to con the brothers because they were young. After three months of hunting, the brothers finally found a few vendors they trusted in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Ludhiana.
The brothers then struck a deal with a Delhi company that sourced lithium cells from China. India has no reserves of lithium or other metals such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese used in lithium-ion batteries. It relies on Chinese suppliers who control mines in Congo, Australia, and Chile where these metals are found. After outsourcing the manufacturing of battery packs and building a network of component suppliers, Enigma started assembling in its farmhouse. It priced the e-rickshaws between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1,30,000.
However, there were still a couple of fundamental challenges the brothers still had to solve: customers’ negative perceptions on the torque of three wheelers and their resale value. Madhya Pradesh and the areas around Bhopal are hilly regions and locals were not sure if e-rickshaws could generate enough torque to climb steep terrain. Electric vehicles generally have no gears because they have no ICE, but Enigma decided to go against the grain by introducing a manual gear option in its e-rickshaws. This could help the e-rickshaws navigate hilly terrain, and this technology was the first of its kind.
Enigma currently carries out businesses in both- e-rickshaws and e-scooter segments. The company offers three variants of the e-scooter- Ambier, Crink, and GT450 which are priced between Rs 49,000 and Rs 78,000. They are offered with two battery options- lead acid and lithium-ion however, the battery life of the latter is five times more than the former. The scooter is powered by a 250 Watt BLDC motor which takes up to four hours to charge fully in a dust-free battery. The company claims a healthy range of 140 km in a single charge.
As far as the e-rickshaw is concerned, it has an installed gear system and it is available in two models- Marut, a passenger vehicle and Marut LDX, a loader. Retailed at a price of Rs 1.10 lakhs, the e-rickshaw comes with a detachable lithium-ion battery that can be charged within 2.5 hours, while the lead-acid battery is charged in eight hours. The best part about the battery is that it can be charged anywhere via a conventional household power socket and comes with a range of up to 100 km on a single charge. The vehicle is also equipped with a remote keyless system that allows the vehicle to start and stop with a remote.
Amidst all the hardships, Enigma has established a strong presence in the electric vehicle industry and aims to achieve 30 percent of the market share by 2025. The brothers and Enigma can truly be considered pioneers in the ‘Make In India’ initiative as well as the EV industry in the country.