When Ranjita Ravi, the founder of Bangalore-based Orxa Energies decided to build an electric motorcycle that she could ride – the one that is seamless with no-compromise, there were none around. So she decided to build one herself. Four years since, Orxa Energies unveiled ‘the Mantis’ at the India Bike Week 2019 and it got a very good response.
Expected to be priced between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, the ‘no-compromise bike’ Mantis is ready to hit the roads in 2021 and Ranjita already has a portfolio in mind to supplement the performance bike in years to come and she may venture overseas too with her EVs.
ElectricVehicleWeb.in caught up with Ranjita Ravi on how the electric bike is shaping up and what are the launch plans and future of her venture.
How was the experience of showcasing at the India Bike Week 2019? Mantis has a global specification – it is a high performance vehicle, 200 km range, it is something you don’t get normally, what are the improvements that you have brought about in this lockdown period?
Ranjita: We are quite happy with the feedback that we got at India Bike Week 2019. There were a lot of people who were very interested in getting the Mantis. Of course, India Bike Week is a very specific audience, so when you say that the motorcycle can be between Rs 3-4 lakhs it’s a ‘performance motorcycle’ – that audience knows what kind of performance they should expect for the price tag. That’s why we chose to do India Bike Week 2019 versus Auto Expo 2020.
Auto Expo is more like a general consumer market, which is price sensitive, they don’t really want a performance bike that goes from zero to 100 km/h in 8 seconds, they don’t want a 200 km range, that is why we chose to go to India Bike Week.
At the India Bike Week..those are bikers, those are early adopters. They want the newest, bestest technology. It was very educational for us well for the feedback that we got. We learnt good things, feel of the bike, etc. There were a lot of improvement points we got, since they are very keen bikers, they can give very pointed feedback, maybe just put the footpeg in this position or another position.
What we showed at IBW was not the final version of the Mantis. In terms of performance, a lot of features were already there. If you see one of the videos on my YouTube that we did on a track day the event we did just before the IBW. You’ll see the feedback of the people who rode the Mantis, they were pretty impressed by the features and the way the Mantis rode.
The people who rode during the track day were quite impressed about how easily maneuverable the bike was. You see, for example, our battery pack is 9 kWh. That is a huge battery pack weighing 65 kg. If you have 65 kilos of batteries and to make the bike move and make it still feel like a ‘Performance Motorcycle’, that can be quite hard.
People were happy with the design. Of course, there was a lot of feedback on the fit and finish. This was expected, as it was not the final version of the bikes. It was not manufacturing ready ‘fit and finish’, it was a prototype ‘fit and finish’.
We took a lot of the feedback and we have improved on those things.
Have you done any major changes since unveiling the prototype?
Ranjita: We took a lot of feedback on fit and finish from IBW. There has been no major change in features, but we have worked on light-weighting. Lighter the bike, more the power and better the bike performs. The major change we have seen is in the manufacturing or assembly process, it is now easier to make than before.
Is Orxa Mantis a limited production bike and can you share the production plan and the portfolio plan for the future?
Ranjita: We will be doing the final assembly of the bike ourselves. We have vendor partners identified who will be helping us make the sub assemblies. The battery packs, we are making in-house because it’s our technology so we don’t want to give that out to anybody. Mantis is not a limited edition – we will introduce new variants in the coming years. There will be a 2021 version, 2022 version and 2023 version. So the Mantis will be there, but we will be coming out with the other models or vehicles – higher and lower in the value chain. So we are a vehicle manufacturer – built around the integral part which is a battery pack.
Mantis is an aspirational product: when can a prospect get the first taste of Mantis and when can he or she book the vehicle?
Ranjita: We should be starting with track days in two months time for everyone. The booking announcement, we will make it soon. But I think we should be ready for that, maybe by March or April.
As founders – and what we’ve seen in the electric vehicle scene – we don’t want to make an announcement and say, give us your money for pre-booking and you will get your vehicle in two years. That has happened before, we don’t want that.
In a way what our target would be, is that as soon as we announce pre-booking, you should be able to get your vehicles in three months. That would be our target. We would want to do that. For an aspirational product, they want it soon. It is not fair to take money and make them wait. So we will get our certification, manufacturing in place, and we will keep it when it is all ready to go. Make to order, you will have it in three months. We will announce pre-bookings.
The distribution by a startup is different from a mainstream bike maker. Start ups will do it their own way – Experience centre, E-Commerce sale etc, what about your plan for distribution?
Ranjita: For the Mantis, a traditional dealer model would not work. Since it is a premium product, our focus will be on the experience, desirability and the whole experience of buying it, the process of buying your Mantis. We will go for the Experience Centre as well, online booking, off course we have financial partnerships, available for customers. An Rs 3-4 lakh is a fairly large amount for someone to put up front. We have financial partners already identified. Yeah. So we’ll go more for that. It will be a personalized experience befitting the product; it has to meet the product expectations.
A start up in Brazil called Voltz Motors have their experience centres. When it comes to delivery, they ship the bike in a big box for a launch party, where a customer could invite friends and enjoy the unboxing experience.
Ranjita: It’s so cool isn’t it? When you’re doing a product that has such a big sticker price and it’s a concept as unique as an electric motorcycle, I think the experience for the customer has to match. It cannot be like taking a delivery of commuter bike at the dealership. Lakhs of commuter bikes are sold every month, but it is not the same for premium products. We are looking at making say 5000 units a year, So the experience has to match that, a sort of uniqueness.
There is an appetite for performance electric bikes in the overseas markets. Do you have a plan to cater to international markets?
Ranjita: It is in the works, but it is not in the initial stage. It is a performance product that has an appeal to a European or Middle East audience. It is a fancy gadget. We have had a lot of people asking us already, however we will do it India first, Bengaluru first and then add international markets.
It takes time to understand other markets – to get them certified and homologated. Also we need to understand what is the most cost optimal way to cater to the international market, whether to assemble or locally manufacture there. We need to answer those questions. We will answer them in India first and then think internationally.
Images in the article are from Orxa’s Facebook channel and official website.