The pace of innovation is mind-blowing!

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
City
Halifax
While there are so many amazing, smart people here on the forum, it is mostly a North American community with some European folks contributing.
I wanted to share one example of how the markets are evolving around the globe. The pace of innovation is mind-blowing. A VC I spoke to, schooled me on some of the latest efforts in the space and pointed how limited my thinking was. We discussed one particular company called Ather energy as an example.

Ather energy is focused on making smart electric scooters. Ather was started by two bright Indian engineers from IIT Madras (IIT's in India are like MIT, Stanford here in the US). They were able to get funding from a few large corporations to the extent of $100 Million USD and everything is assembled in India. They are scaling up in a way that is just amazing.
If you read the spec sheet and features of their top-of-the-line model, Ather 450x, you will be amazed! (check out their 30 seconds factory video below)

Specification:
6 kW mid-motor
2.9 kWh battery
Fully suspended (progressive mono-shock)
Gates carbon belt drive system,
Fully integrated GPS with Google maps
(They have partnered with Google India, to use their cloud-based servers and a whole host of amazing features.)
fast charging + Remote charging control via an app
MSRP of USD $2050

It is amazing how much value you get for under $2100 USD with this scooter. If we have to make the EV revolution happen, bringing the cost down is an important element.

We need something like that in the E-bike Space and it is really admirable what they have done so far.





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Thanks for sharing the info, Ravi. That is one cool scooter!
It’s wonderful seeing the new electric vehicles designed and produced around the world.
 
To decrease prices volume has to go up. To increase the volume infrastructure has to be improved and people should be encouraged to ride.

For the space of a single lane road, a two lane bicycle "highway" can be built. I say highway because the longer ones should let people ride legally at least 20mph. These paths should be open to other power limited, light electric vehicles.

Many people would switch to bicycles, ebikes or similar micro mobility vehicles if we had such interconnected paths(which are separated from the traffic) of at least 10-15 miles each.
 
The main impressive part is that this is happening in India. Maybe something like it was already happening in India, but low priced electric mopeds are common in China, Taiwan, Vietnam. Here's a Reddit thread mentioning Niu mopeds costing 6500 RMB ($1000 USD) or less:
If it were $2000 in the US, that would be something indeed.

I once saw a Chinese maker's website, forget which, showing its mopeds, and then its bicycles. Its bicycles cost as much or more, while not even being motorized. CSC also sells motorcycles that cost as much as some of its e-bikes.
 
Fully integrated GPS with Google maps
(They have partnered with Google India, to use their cloud-based servers and a whole host of amazing features.)
fast charging + Remote charging control via an app
MSRP of USD $2050
To hit that price point with that kind of motor and battery makes me think the price may be subsidized by a google-x investment: here's some cash and lets see how fast you can grow. Regardless, fascinating to hear about those kind of specs at that price.
 
Thanks for sharing the info, Ravi. That is one cool scooter!
It’s wonderful seeing the new electric vehicles designed and produced around the world.

It is really amazing to see what is happening around the world.
What is happening in countries like China and India is really staggering. EU is also investing heavily into building battery production plants, assembly plants, etc.
 
The main impressive part is that this is happening in India. Maybe something like it was already happening in India, but low priced electric mopeds are common in China, Taiwan, Vietnam. Here's a Reddit thread mentioning Niu mopeds costing 6500 RMB ($1000 USD) or less:
If it were $2000 in the US, that would be something indeed.

I once saw a Chinese maker's website, forget which, showing its mopeds, and then its bicycles. Its bicycles cost as much or more, while not even being motorized. CSC also sells motorcycles that cost as much as some of its e-bikes.

NIU scooters are pretty awesome. Then there is Gogoro in Taiwan. The scooter market in China is at least 1000x of the E-bike market in the US. So, the kind of work done in China to push two-wheel EVs is just staggering.

Indian customers don't have the financial wherewithal of N. American customers and the sub-continent market is extremely price-sensitive but India has a large, educated population.
They were fed up with some of the imports from China and these two guys were able to step up and convince investors to bring a really high-quality product. So, now, they have enough orders for the next 18 months.
The features, quality, engineering of this scooter is on par with any of the best scooters around the world. VCs are very bullish on this company.

I also amazed by how companies like CSC and Sur Ron can make a decent product that doesn't cost an arm and leg.
 
To hit that price point with that kind of motor and battery makes me think the price may be subsidized by a google-x investment: here's some cash and lets see how fast you can grow. Regardless, fascinating to hear about those kind of specs at that price.

Google did not invest in the company.
There is another company called "Flipkart" in India, which is sort of Walmart of India and they invested heavily.
Also, HERO motors, one of the largest scooter manufacturers in India, invested. They have a whole bunch of highly knowledgeable investors and the demand is quite high to substantiate their $400M valuation.

Wow, that is good value.

I'm guessing you need a motorcycle license to ride one of these.

Yes. These scooters have a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 100 km. The addressable market in India for this kind of scooter is HUGE. You are looking at least 20 million units per year.
So, every family has one and the same driver's license can be used for scooters and motorcycles in India.
 
India's huge internal market, deteriorating relationship with China and nationalist ruling class means we'll probably see a lot more of this kind of insourcing of development and production. Diversifying the supply chain options is good.

The other day I came across mid-drive motors designed for e-bikes made in India. Trying to find it.
 
Thanks for the share.

80km/h is quick! They are competing against ~$800 scooters. Would like to see some clever financing options to bring it to parity. India does have >1B people, so they don't even have to appeal to the masses to make money.

Also, how is India's power grid? That I think was Gogoro's biggest achievement-their battery stations.

Of the 20M, how many are being sold domestically? Would love to see some here in the states.

That video was beautifully produced!
 
While there are so many amazing, smart people here on the forum, it is mostly a North American community with some European folks contributing.
I wanted to share one example of how the markets are evolving around the globe. The pace of innovation is mind-blowing. A VC I spoke to, schooled me on some of the latest efforts in the space and pointed how limited my thinking was. We discussed one particular company called Ather energy as an example.

Ather energy is focused on making smart electric scooters. Ather was started by two bright Indian engineers from IIT Madras (IIT's in India are like MIT, Stanford here in the US). They were able to get funding from a few large corporations to the extent of $100 Million USD and everything is assembled in India. They are scaling up in a way that is just amazing.
If you read the spec sheet and features of their top-of-the-line model, Ather 450x, you will be amazed! (check out their 30 seconds factory video below)

Specification:
6 kW mid-motor
2.9 kWh battery
Fully suspended (progressive mono-shock)
Gates carbon belt drive system,
Fully integrated GPS with Google maps
(They have partnered with Google India, to use their cloud-based servers and a whole host of amazing features.)
fast charging + Remote charging control via an app
MSRP of USD $2050

It is amazing how much value you get for under $2100 USD with this scooter. If we have to make the EV revolution happen, bringing the cost down is an important element.

We need something like that in the E-bike Space and it is really admirable what they have done so far.





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And that's why I laugh hysterically at the "Major Brand" aficionados with their touts of you get what you pay for. They are getting screw'd with a smile and not even with a drop off lubrication... Not because it cost that much to produce the product, but because there is a market for those who like to constantly talk of thier toys.
MSRP..means a selling price that they are making a meaningful profit with.
 
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And that's why I laugh hysterically at the "Major Brand" aficionados with their touts of you get what you pay for. They are getting screw'd with a smile and not even with a drop off lubrication... Not because it cost that much to produce the product, but because there is a market for those who like to constantly talk of thier toys.
MSRP..means a selling price that they are making a meaningful profit with.
You realize those prices are for India only?
 
You realize those prices are for India only?
Yes... But that doesn't mean that it can't be done elsewhere. Most of the name brand eBike components are coming out of China.
Even if you add $1000 to the cost for import.. you are still receiving 3 times more in all aspects than what you get from a $5000+ name brand eBike. Just look at the tires, brakes and more robust suspension... then add in all the added safety requirements needed to be street legal.

Just look at some of the technology... https://www.atherenergy.com/
 

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Yes... But that doesn't mean that it can't be done elsewhere. Most of the name brand eBike components are coming out of China.
Even if you add $1000 to the cost for import.. you are still receiving 3 times more in all aspects than what you get from a $5000+ name brand eBike. Just look at the tires, brakes and more robust suspension... then add in all the added safety requirements needed to be street legal.

Just look at some of the technology... https://www.atherenergy.com/
Sounds like a recipe for a 200 pound bike.
 
Sounds like a recipe for a 200 pound bike.
That's not the point.
The point is that the technology, engineering, manufacturing and materials needed to produce an ebike do not warrant a $5000 price tag.
Try to see the forest, it's just beyond that tree.
 
That's not the point.
The point is that the technology, engineering, manufacturing and materials needed to produce an ebike do not warrant a $5000 price tag.
Try to see the forest, it's just beyond that tree.

I agree with you. Certain technologies/operations will make a tremendous positive impact and it can only happen at scale.
For example, Uber, Costco, Amazon, etc. Both Uber and Amazon did not report profits for a long time. Uber is still not profitable.
In the case of Ather, they were able to scale up significantly to bring the cutting edge technology to the masses + at that price point. I happen to know the VC who is very close to the founders and the amount of work that has gone into making this scooter possible is just astounding. Now, they are reaching 100,000+ volumes and on track to hit half-million units/year.

In the case of E-bikes also, it can be done. But it needs significant optimization of the supply chain and a very strong team of engineers + VCs funding the whole thing. At Zen, we are hoping to something positive so we can offer high-quality bikes at a price point that is affordable and yet keep the company sustainable. It takes a lot of commitment, work. There is always a risk that you will lose a significant amount of time, money, and your life trying to do something like this and that's what makes it hard. Big companies like Boosted (Boosted boards) raised 100+ Million and yet failed and closed. So, there are big opportunities but also big risks in execution.
 
That's not the point.
The point is that the technology, engineering, manufacturing and materials needed to produce an ebike do not warrant a $5000 price tag.
Try to see the forest, it's just beyond that tree.
I agree with you. Certain technologies/operations will make a tremendous positive impact and it can only happen at scale.
For example, Uber, Costco, Amazon, etc. Both Uber and Amazon did not report profits for a long time. Uber is still not profitable.
In the case of Ather, they were able to scale up significantly to bring the cutting edge technology to the masses + at that price point. I happen to know the VC who is very close to the founders and the amount of work that has gone into making this scooter possible is just astounding. Now, they are reaching 100,000+ volumes and on track to hit half-million units/year.

In the case of E-bikes also, it can be done. But it needs significant optimization of the supply chain and a very strong team of engineers + VCs funding the whole thing. At Zen, we are hoping to something positive so we can offer high-quality bikes at a price point that is affordable and yet keep the company sustainable. It takes a lot of commitment, work. There is always a risk that you will lose a significant amount of time, money, and your life trying to do something like this and that's what makes it hard. Big companies like Boosted (Boosted boards) raised 100+ Million and yet failed and closed. So, there are big opportunities but also big risks in execution.
People start out talking that way, and then their cost estimate doubles as they learn the ropes, after they've sold investors into their dream. You are currently in the former phase. I'm not saying this to be mean or snarky, it's just a fact of startups starting low, then going high on prices because those low teaser prices don't work. The business model is selling a dream, and VCs know it, and they don't mind, on the off chance that a company takes off. And that's the whole Indiegogo model. Your listed prices seem great but reasonable, but that's very far from $1000 for a $5000 ebike.

Prices in the industry have gone up over time, and not down, and a long term component supplier crunch suggests cost cuts won't come. Not to mention persistently high battery prices despite declines for cars.

That there's something uniquely greedy or lazy about the bike industry such that a moped maker could come in and beat them is pretty dubious, given how long both have been around. Plus Yamaha already did that, and does offer pretty low prices, $3400 for a class 3 500wh road bike, 43 lbs, with 3 year warranty via retail dealerships.

The notion of scale also seems like a fairy tale for investors. The scale already exists via a massive industry of suppliers, and even among carmakers. Bringing things in house makes sense somewhat for something as tightly integrated as a smartphone or coherent piece of software, and especially for a product that has lock in effects like Facebook. Not so much a product that has very weak consumer side network effects, and already largely uses modular non-proprietary systems. Vanmoof did a lot of things in house, and their reputation for reliability is a laughingstock. Uber promised they'd make money at scale, and there's no evidence in their financials of it, their losses keep piling up. The only scale is them putting their foot on the scale to cut wages, and even that isn't enough.

Maybe the VCs are hip to this. Look at what they've actually invested in, and it's mostly marketing (heavy companies). Rad, Super73, Lectric. Vanmoof is the exception somewhat, but their record is spotty.

There just isn't a lot of room to maneuver between the big component, motor, battery and frame makers. The fact that Shimano has been extremely dominant for several decades doesn't exactly instill trust that someone can come and take their lunch, as much as Microshift would love to try.
 
That's not the point.
The point is that the technology, engineering, manufacturing and materials needed to produce an ebike do not warrant a $5000 price tag.
Try to see the forest, it's just beyond that tree.
I just shopped full suspension e bikes and 5k is cheap only Yamaha was a serious name that stayed under 6k that I found and I rode it its badass, light beautiful and they only had a Small so I left with a Bulls e stream evo am 4 2021 for under 7k with taxes and such, but damn its serious
 
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