India is a country is one where cost-effective modes of transport are extremely popular. This means that despite the initial hesitation of how willing Indian consumers would be to transition from fuel-run vehicles to EVs, the reality is that segments such as two- and three-wheeler vehicles are welcoming electrification with open arms.
Pune-based Tork Motors is committed to disrupting the EV space and set new standards for innovative and technologically advanced mobility.
We caught up with CEO and Founder Kapil Shelke and spoke to him about what motivated him to start India’s first electric motorcycle manufacturing start-up with its own proprietary drive train technology.
“My father is a mechanical engineer and a first-generation entrepreneur in our family. My mom is a homemaker who would support me equally in my studies, hobbies and outings. Since my childhood I was fond of electronic RC controlled toy cars and would break and make them again. When I grew up, I used to buy small play kits with electric motors, switches, sensors, actuators etc. from my pocket money to make RC controlled cars and use to race them on the streets with my friends,” says Shelke.
“My passion for motorcycles led me towards building the first prototype of the electric motorcycle while still in my engineering college. It was exhilarating as we won thrice at Isle of Man TT race, the Mecca of motorcycle racing. Interacting with engineers from across the globe at this platform gave me overall understanding of what electric motorcycles are capable of and how are superior to existing IC engine powered vehicles.”
“In India, I was hearing about electric cars and scooters and no one spoke of electric motorcycles. So Tork Motors came into being as India’s first electric motorcycle startup. With T6X, we are on the journey from prototyping to manufacturing India’s first electric motorcycle for commercial purposes,” he adds.
Shelke’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2016, and his conviction to make electric motorcycle an everyday reality led to the creation of Tork Motors.
Taking us back to the start of his entrepreneurial journey, he says: “We started with our research and development for commercial purposes in the year 2016, before which we had built customized bikes only for Isle of Man TT races. My entrepreneurial journey began in the year 2016 when we formally started Tork Motors and since then it has been an interesting one with ups and downs.”
Shelke tells us that he’s proud that Tork Motors is the only Indian company that is developing a complete electric motorcycle which has 89% of its components build in India. Tork has also developed TIROS (Tork Intuitive Response Operating System), the intelligence that drives the T6X.
“Apart from analysis and compilation of data for every ride, power management, real-time power consumption, and range forecasts, TIROS also learns the riding patterns of the rider. T6X is currently being built with a few final touches and final testing pending in terms of engineering, fine-tuning and testing. We will be out there soon.”
Currently, Tork Motors’ team comprises of 50+ professionals, most of whom have an experience of working with other two-, three- and four-wheeler automotive companies. There are a fair few within the team, who have previously worked in electric mobility solutions space as well.
“We recently had the automobile industry veteran Roy Kurian join us as the head of sales & marketing for T6X. Investors Amit Kalyani from Bharat Forge and Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati from Ola have been major supporters to us,” explains Shelke.
Speaking about the EV space in India and the problem areas that Tork Motors is currently looking to tackle head-on, Shelke says: “EV is the sunrise sector of India and is receiving the desired attention from the government and investors. It is the right time to be in India for electric mobility solutions as there are subsidies and benefits that the government is providing to increase its adoption. The reduction in GST from 18% to 5% will encourage people to switch to or adopt green vehicle.
“Along with manufacturing an electric motorcycle, there are a lot of challenges like lack of charging infrastructure, flawless battery technology, sourcing of electrical components, packaging of the critical components, servicing of the electrical parts that a company has to take care of. With a vision to see India as an electric country, Tork is the first Indian company to build everything in-house – battery management system, motors, controllers, battery packs, charging infrastructure, telematic systems.”
He adds: “With T6X, Tork Motors is building an innovative solution for India’s EV chapter coupled with the best-in-the-industry technology. Our core technology of TIROS (Tork Intuitive Response Operating System) powers T6X and can be extended to the three-wheeler segment as well.”
Shelke concludes: “The EV scenario in India is getting better each day as companies are working towards adopting technology at a faster pace. It is expected to grow in terms of new offerings that an electric motorcycle can provide as well as the adoption of better technology for the overall improvement of the product. The future is definitely electric. I would like to believe that the enthusiasm of the customers in welcoming electric motorcycles plays a key role in our journey as well.”