Bengaluru-based electric vehicle (EV) maker Simple Energy has an ambitious target to beat country’s number one electric two-wheeler maker Ola, and that too in the next financial year. Simple Energy has recently come up with its manufacturing facility at Shoolagiri in Tamil Nadu, and is launching its first product — Simple One eScooter —on May 23. According to the company, its facility has India’s first patented in-house motor manufacturing line, a battery manufacturing line along with other facilities such as cell storage and Customer Acceptance Line (CAL). In an interview with businessline, Suhas Rajkumar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Simple Energy shares more. Edited excerpts.
What is your game plan moving forward for Simple Energy with respect to products?
We have already started production of the Simple One. Right now, we are waiting to conclude the launch event for Simple One, post which we will start deliveries. We are booked for the next two years and we will continue to ramp up the production capacity. The best thing about our product is the organic traction that we have received since our inception. This has also resulted in mass pre-bookings from customers. Every time there is an official communication from our end, we have witnessed a surge in bookings. That is a very positive thing for us as we sort out our product and it boosts our confidence.
How do you see the overall industry going forward for the EV 2-wheelers?
There is a generalised perception that there are too many people in the EV market and over 80 per cent of them are Chinese players who have been in the market for the past 15 years. I am very happy that government (in FAME-II scheme) is coming hard on them because it will remove the bad EVs from the market and fund the right companies that are trying to sort things. The positive outlook for the industry is that you have the top two-three companies, which are mostly start-ups that have done the hard work. The automobile industry does not work as a 10-minute delivery service, and they need a lot of sustenance in their business model. Selling at a loss is not something that the companies should look at and Simple Energy is not looking at freebies either. About FAME, the government is right on their part, and they have done enough. For Simple Energy, it is a very positive sign, because we have come up with features that no one in the market is offering and we build here from scratch...while people expect us to start slow, we do believe that this year is exciting. We are planning to do things faster and in a bigger market share than what people anticipate.
You have been in the market for sometime now. Were you concentrating on the battery pack or on the motors only, before launching the EVs?
We were ramping up our production capacity and were busy with complying with the safety norms, and they are not easy. There are significant changes in the battery pack and the overall composition of the battery...The groundwork is done. Just the implementation in the right way is needed. We are fundamentally clear on what we want to do. We are considered to be a bit slower than other players but that’s for the right reason. On the business side, we need to scale faster. Hopefully, next year we will be number one.
What makes you say that you will become number one so soon?
The confidence in the pre-booking and the confidence on the product is why I said this. What will matter to us is the scale. If we scale faster, we can definitely be the number one.
You mean beating Ola Electric...
Yes, why not?...All depends on how we scale and our strategy for the same. If our strategy is right, next financial year we should be number one.
What is the current turnover that you have right now, if you can share figures? And, how much have you invested so far?
Our revenue will be close to $150 million in FY24 and expect to achieve $350-500 million in FY25 and cross $1 billion by FY26. We are also looking to raise $50 million in the next quarter and then $150- 200 million by the end of FY24. The company has invested ₹100 crore in the production plant and we will invest another ₹400-450 crore in FY24 in it.
What is your current workforce like and what are your future hiring plans?
We are currently a 400-plus workforce and we look to scale it at least 2x in the next one year. We’ve been hiring people from across the industry, and we are also hiring a couple of people from Tesla. These will help us research and design the product best suited for the Indian market.