Toutche bikes epitomise modern technology with aesthetically-pleasing design
Published on : Tuesday 02-11-2021
Raghu Kerakatty, Co-founder & CEO, Toutche Electric.
Indias bicycle market is hotting up, but is it ready to launch premium electric bike models?
With the rise of the eco-conscious consumer, and the pandemic playing a great part in changing peoples mind-set, there has been a bike/ebike boom in India, with demand growing by a whopping 30% in 2020. Since then, all bike and ebike segments have undergone a transformation. Factors like exposure to latest technologies, higher standard of living, and people’s growing affinity for cycling has given this segment the much-needed confidence. From bike simulators and spas, to bike cafes and libraries, companies are coming up with innovative ways to please the new-age consumer. While the growth for the premium ebikes will be gradual, we expect to see a steady rise in numbers over the next three to five years.
What is the type of battery used and the range as well as charging convenience? Is there any regenerative mechanism?
We use a detachable, Li-on battery made of Panasonic cells in our electric bikes. These come in two ranges. This gives the rider the option to charge their ebike from a regular power socket at home or outside. And if the battery shuts down, the bike can be pedalled, thus eliminating the need for charging stations. This gives electric bikes a huge advantage over other EVs which can only be charged at home or a charging station. When it comes to a regenerative mechanism, in cycles, the incremental benefit is quite marginal.
What kind of R&D has gone into the product and how indigenous it is in terms of components used?
Toutche bikes epitomise modern technology with aesthetically-pleasing design. We pay great attention to detail at every step to ensure our e-bikes offer the bestriding experience. The battery used has a long life with a range of over 80 km which not only eliminates the need for frequent charging, but also takes it a notch above the available models in the industry.
Our R&D hub is in India, spread across Mysore and Bangalore, comprising Technology and Engineering & Design units. We design and make our electric drive train – Battery, Controller and the entire waterproof integrated housing, entirely in-house in India. The drive train parts manufacturing is carried out by our local partners based in Mysore and Bangalore, exclusively for Toutche. When you add the other bicycle components, 50-60% of the value of an ebike is indigenous and made/sourced in India.
Who is the typical customer you have in mind for the models on offer?
A typical Heileo customer is a forward thinking, smart, self and environment conscious individual. They want to inculcate biking into their lifestyle as a form of exercise and convenient mode to commute. The Heileo M (Mountain) series appeals to customers that like a rugged, performance bike to tackle any terrain, whereas the H (Hybrid) series is made for customers doing road rides. Heileo customers typically are quality and product look conscious, looking for long range bikes.
India is a large market, so how do you plan the distribution model?
We have a large distribution channel across the country, with a dealer network of premium bike stores in over 25 cities in India. While we continue to scale this network, we also have an omni-channel retail (Toutche webstore, other online partners), marketing and service strategy in place to reach more customers.
You have recently announced your presence in the international market. What is the strategy?
We aim to establish a global foothold with innovative and quality products in the e-bike markets that are growing exponentially. Being headquartered in the UK gives us a head start, and in early 2022, we plan to roll out Toutches entry in the UK with an operating framework for a few other international markets. Our strategy is to be global yet local, in the markets we operate in. We have earmarked a few countries we plan to operate in. With a global leadership team that has significant expertise in the international markets, we are quietly confident of our success
What kind of infrastructure support do our cities need to facilitate EV micro-mobility in India?
Micro-mobility is still in its nascent stage in India. Our cities are not well-prepared yet for micro vehicles like bikes, e-bikes, etc. The current infrastructure is essentially built for faster and larger vehicles, making it unsafe for bikes. For this to change, we first need to assign separate lanes for bikes and micro vehicles on the road. Secondly, arrangements need to be made to set up various charging stations on highways, residential areas, commercial complexes and parking spots, to help customers make the switch to EVs without any hassle. The subsidies from the government will help the cause, and micro-mobility firms are already in constant talks with governments to fast track this process. ebikes have been left out of the FAME II policy (for subsidies) and need to be considered for inclusion. Overall, cities need to strengthen their road infrastructure and recognise the smaller vehicles on the road. A lot of awareness and education would develop the attitude of co-existence with the micro-mobility vehicles on the road.
The company was launched in 2018. How has the journey been since?
Our journey has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but the learning curve has been great. When we launched Toutchs Heileo range of e-bikes in 2019, we got an overwhelming response from the industry and consumers alike. But then Covid-19 hit and put a stop to our upward trend. However, the period from June to November 2020 again boosted our sales as we exhausted our first stock and witnessed a steep rise in demand for e-bikes in India and globally. Although this choked our supply chain across geographies and caused stock issues across markets, it allowed us to hit the ground running on technology and design innovations. We believe we are now well-prepared to address the rising market demand. We recently took a step further towards establishing ourselves globally and launched our entity in the UK. Overall, it has been a journey of great learning, letting us pivot in the right direction.
Raghu Kerakatty strongly believed from the early days of Toutche that Micromobility will be the hotspot of innovation in the years to come and electric bicycles will be at the centre of it, redefining personal mobility in India and globally. In the year, 2019 he led ‘Toutche Electric’s official foray into the market and it has been on a wave of hyper growth ever since. In an entirely new market with a disruptive new technology, Toutche is re-imagining the future of transportation, with its revolutionary green venture, engineering an environment friendly mode of personal mobility.
With over 20+ years of industry experience, the accomplished entrepreneur comes with a stellar background and experience of working for/with renowned global technology bellwethers like Cognizant, Microsoft, AWS, Google, Sonata and NIIT Technologies (now Coforge). Raghu earned his BTech and MBA (PGDM) from NIT Warangal and IIM Bangalore. He brings a wealth of experience and skills to Toutche, where he and his team are heads down building India’s finest, and software led ebikes that are positioned to be lifestyle companions.