Amid prototype sketches, whiteboards, and projectors, a functional model of an electric motorcycle is laid out for examination in Ultraviolette Automotive’s office in the south Indian city of Bengaluru. Located in the Domlur neighbourhood, it’s one of the first startups to bet on the premium electric-bike market in India.
In a few weeks, this office will turn into an experience centre as potential customers will be invited to get a feel of the soon-to-be launched F77 bike. Another new, four-storeyed office—housing its engineers, research and development (R&D) team, designers, and more bikes—is also a stone’s throw away.
“We want our R&D team and our engineers to come and speak to the customers. We also wanted our production site to not be too far away from the office,” says founder and chief technological officer (CTO) Niraj Rajmohan. Their production facility is about 26 km away in the industrial area of Jigani, located on the outskirts of the city.
Pre-bookings for the F77 opened late last month and the official launch is set for 24 November. While pricing and specifications are yet to be unveiled, the vehicle has already created a flutter in the industry.
Compared to other electric bikes on sale in India that currently offer low-speed and smaller battery packs, F77 will offer a 10 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery pack and a maximum speed of 147 km per hour. In contrast, Revolt Motors’ RV400, which was launched in 2019, only has a top speed of about 85 km per hour and a battery pack of 3.2 kWh. Greater the battery pack, greater the power.
Ultraviolette is offering three variants of F77—‘airstrike’, ‘lightening’, and ‘shadow’. Its claimed-range of 307 km on a single charge is the highest in any two-wheeler electric vehicle (EV) in India so far, almost equivalent to Tata’s electric four-wheeler Tiago. At least three auto analysts The Ken spoke to said the actual on-road range might be about 280 km, but even that would be a feat.
The launch, though, comes nearly six years after Ultraviolette was set up. It took the company this long to build a strong internal R&D team, develop proprietary battery technology and vehicle designs, and get intellectual property rights.
“We’re in no hurry to go to the moon with this one,” says Vishesh Rajaram, co-founder of Speciale Invest, an early-stage venture-capital firm that was one of the first investors in Ultraviolette. “We know that an automotive company can’t be built in one year, and once we give the vehicle to a customer, we can’t take it back and fundamentally remodel it.”
Unlike the electric-scooter segment, which is brimming with products by startups and legacy players, the electric bike space has been a quiet front.
This, despite about 70% of the Indian two-wheeler market being made up of bikes.