Hyderabad: Versatile Auto Components, a Hyderabad-based plastic and metal components company serving automotive sector for over a decade, has developed VE-45, a short distance commuter electric scooter, developed as a means of personal transport.
The company is planning to set up a manufacturing unit with an investment of about Rs 15 crore that will have a capacity of making 50,000 units per year. Fresh funding which will go into land acquisition, plant and machinery will be managed through a mix of debt and equity. The company has spent Rs 6 crore so far into the venture, funded entirely through internal accruals.
Founded by the first generation entrepreneur Chandu Kumar Potti (hailing from freedom fighter Potti Sriramulu’s family), his team spent four years to develop the electric vehicle with its prototype ready in 2016 and the scooter went through a series of tests in the last 18 months.
The company has developed ten vehicles to start with as a first step. The vehicle is largely indigenised barring few imported components. The team has been responsible for the entire value chain-design, development and manufacturing.
Stressing on the difference the State has made through its initiatives, he said, “Telangana has created an industry-friendly ecosystem by ensuring policies that help companies to set up units and grow, as well as continuous power supply that makes their production going. Make in Telangana has been a belief that made me innovate a short distance electric scooter, VE-45. It is not just me and my engineers that made this possible. The phenomenal TS-iPASS, uninterrupted power and water supply and the optimistic industrial renaissance are just a few to name.”
Chandu Kumar who is also the Pashamylaram industrial estate chairman says, “We have units in the industrial estate benefiting through TS-iPASS. I have seen from close how industrial policies of a State can aid companies in growth. Several years ago, units used to get just 2-3 hours a day and this was hampering the operations. And Telangana government quickly streamlined the power supply not just in Hyderabad but across the State.”
The vehicle can run 45 km per charge and comes with dual brakes that ensure effective braking. The single-seater vehicle can carry a load of over 150 kg and provides optimum safety to the owner. The vehicle is priced at Rs 20,000.
He shares, “In rural India, personal transport is still a challenge and we want to address the problems, in addition to solving urban challenges. Low-income people can afford the vehicle as the existing vehicles are not in their range. Bike is still a luxury in villages and people earning less than Rs 10,000 or Rs 15,000 can’t afford to by two-wheelers available in the market. The fuel cost is unbearable for them even if they buy one. We can’t change the society or socio-economic conditions overnight, but we can certainly find solutions for it.”
The company’s vehicle can also be used in large corporate campuses, making the commute pollution-free. It can also be suitable for college students, who otherwise commute by hanging over buses, travelling on footboard, making it risky, he points out.
When asked about, business and market expansion strategy, Chandu Kumar explained, “We will launch our vehicle commercially within next one month. We will market our vehicle in Telangana, adjoining States and then go pan-India. We will also export it to Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. We will grow the organic way. We will seek local partners when we foray overseas markets. We will come out 27 models in total, and four had been finalized including VE-45, being the base model.”
Chandu who is an MBA has created a team of 150 that is looking to disrupt the electric vehicle space.