In India, the health risks of air pollution are extremely serious and passenger vehicles undoubtedly remain one the major contributors to the problem. Our transportation choices have a huge impact on air quality.
But the transition to electric vehicles has been hampered by the enormous upfront investment that has to be borne by the consumers. Apart from a few Govt. subsidies, there was no way around this, until now.
Sahil S. Uttekar, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the Army Institute of Technology (AIT), Pune, with the assistance of Piyush Sharma who had graduated in the same field from Y.T.I.E.T, Mumbai, has come up with an innovative method of retrofitting old petrol two-wheelers and converting them into electric vehicles thereby reducing the cost of owing an EV by at-least 55%.
With the new scrappage policy making it mandatory to dismantle all the private vehicles older than 20 years if they do not pass the fitness and emission test, Elktrun is providing a great alternative to the owners of these two wheelers!
Where it all began
Sahil, the CEO and founder of the company, had a keen interests in power and electronics since his early college days. His journey dates back to 2019 when he was writing a research on retrofitting an auto rickshaw to convert it into an EV under the guidance of one of his professors, Dr. P. B. Karandikar.
After completion of the paper, it was Mr. Karandikar who suggested him to try and demonstrate this conversion practically. But lack of funding for the project did not allow them to proceed further with this plan.
At that time, we did not have the funds to convert a rickshaw. We approximated the cost to exceed Rs. 1 Lakh.recalls Sahil in the interview with The Story Watch
However, the lack of funds did pave the way for them to start with a relatively smaller yet no less important project, that of convert an old two wheeler into an electric vehicle.
Sahil, along with Piyush (co-founder and CTO of the company), who is currently pursuing his M.E. from AIT, Pune, started working on a Bajaj Spirit scooty owned by one of the students of Mr. Karandikar. The two-wheeler was more than 18 years old. Though the body parts were in good shape, the engine was totally impaired. They started with the process of conversion in July, 2019.
Though the mechanical parts were easily fixed by the two tech enthusiasts in the workshop, the electrical complexities were altogether a new chapter for both. Due to the distance of the workshop and lack of time during college, it took them one and a half months to complete the entire process.
Thus, their initial prototype of retrofitting a traditional two-wheeler and converting it to an electric vehicle was concluded successfully.
The journey towards Elktrun
The conversion of the Bajaj Spirit received a very positive feedback from people. Next, the young entrepreneurs were selected to participate in prestigious tech and business competitions all around India.
Meanwhile, in April 2020, the Government laid out the scrappage policy with a vision of encouraging the transition to electric vehicles. The policy also stated to sanction a nominal amount of money to the owners who will be scrapping their old vehicles.
Sahil and Piyush could now see an even brighter side of the retrofitting phenomenon. With the Bajaj Spirit, it was earlier seen that the problem was not with the body but with the internal parts. So, the idea was to replace the old combustion engine and replace it with a new electrical one .
Thus, this cost-effective innovation was a win win on both fronts
What Elktrun has in stock for you
The retrofittings are available in four variants. Maintaining the standard range, the first variant has a base price of around ₹38K with a range of 40-45 km.
Next comes the extended battery variant offering a range of 80km.
The final variant gives you a mammoth range of 100km with a cost around ₹48K.
A charger of 48-Volt 6-Amp is provided alongside which takes about 5-6 hours to charge your system. Also, to minimize the time span of charging to 2-3 hours, an alternative charger of 48-Volt 10-Amp is available.
The battery also comes with a warranty of 3 years.
Why Elktrun is currently the best option
A close analysis shows that some of the best two-wheelers available in the market costs more than ₹1.2 lacs and comes with the highest range of 85-95 kms.
Thus, conversion with the help of Elktrun clearly stands out as 50-55% more profitable than buying a new vehicle from the market.
Another added advantage is that the battery is swappable here. To maintain a constant voltage and safe discharge LFP (Lithium ferro phosphate) battery is used. The retrofitted product only has a nominal charging cost of 10 paise/Km. Calculations show that even if the battery is charged daily, it will last for more than 5 years.
The team has also made decentralized use of ultracapacitor as an additional feature. Such a usage of ultracapacitor enhances the battery life by more than one year.
At the start of e-bike, the torque required is higher which is taken from the ultracapacitor for 2-3 hours. That can be then switched to the normal mode by any OPAMP switch.
explains the young CEO
Where does the company stand presently?
Recently, a social media post has stirred up a lot of buzz around the company boosting its order numbers hugely.
‘We are currently dealing with 30 more orders and are increasing the scale of our operations’ informed Sahil .
Thus, it can be said that Elktrun has unlocked the door to an almost unexplored domain of budget-friendly electric vehicles. There is also a scope of a lot of improvements in the field in near future. Being the customer-oriented solution to a bunch of problems, the company has every possibility to accelerate itself as a market leader in the next couple of years!
Sahil also thanked his college AIT, Pune, and his mentors Dr. Sanjiv M. Sansgiri (HOD & Professor, Mechanical Department) and Dr. P. B. Karandikar (Professor, E&TC Department) for being the constant guides throughout their entire journey.