Speaking to TechGraph, iGowise Mobility CEO Sravan Appana discusses the company’s efforts to enhance 2Wheerler mobility with their inclusive and innovative iGO Smart Scooters, and how it promotes inclusivity and sustainability in urban environments.
Read the complete interview:
TechGraph: Could you help give a sense of how iGowise has come to exist?
Sravan Appana: iGowise is a team of highly skilled engineers specializing in smart mobility technology. Our members have extensive experience working on various projects related to Indian railways, metro-rail systems, and major technology multinational corporations. With over 20 engineering and deep-tech patents, we have established ourselves as leaders in the field.
One of our notable achievements is the development and implementation of the PRT-lite solution, which addresses urban last-mile transportation challenges. This innovative solution has garnered recognition in the form of multiple awards and a grant from AIM & NITI-Aayog for our successful pilot of autonomous shuttle pods.
Adapting to the pandemic circumstances, we leveraged our engineering expertise and deep understanding of the Indian mobility landscape. We embarked on an innovative and exciting endeavor. We have conceived, designed, engineered, and manufacture our BeiGo twin-wheeled smart scooter++ at our state-of-the-art facility in Whitefield, Bangalore. This scooter is specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of the Indian market, representing a significant advancement in micro-mobility solutions for the country
TechGraph: With the rising popularity of electric vehicles, what sets iGowise apart from other electric bike manufacturers?
Sravan Appana: iGowise is a deep-tech smart mobility startup focused on sustainable mobility as a crucial component of its larger vision. While electric vehicles (EVs) are part of the solution, iGowise aims to bridge the gap between two-wheelers and four-wheelers with its innovative smart scooter++.
The company’s dedicated team is developing smart technologies to enhance safety, stability, comfort, and utility in the two-wheeler segment. By bringing the comfort and security typically associated with four-wheelers into a compact footprint, iGowise aims to combat traffic congestion in congested metros by reducing bulky cars. Through its commitment to innovation, iGowise is reshaping urban transportation and promoting a more sustainable future.
TechGraph: How do you see iGowise contributing to the overall growth and adoption of electric vehicles in India and beyond?
Sravan Appana: While the two-wheeler (2W) mobility market may appear crowded, a closer look reveals that existing choices cater to specific segments, such as urban, young, or male riders. However, there are significant gaps and unmet needs in the market that iGowise aims to address.
Despite 80% of Indian households owning a 2W, only a small fraction of women, less than 11%, are seen behind the handlebars. Additionally, many elderly individuals have to give up scooters due to fatigue and balancing challenges. Moreover, a significant portion of the rural population lacks the means to afford both a personal and utility vehicle. This leads to a demand for a versatile solution. iGowise recognizes these underserved segments and has designed its current variant to cater to their requirements.
Furthermore, iGowise’s future all-weather cruiser variant presents an opportunity to accelerate the transition for aspirational households from traditional scooters to more advanced options. As major cities around the world implement car bans in their central areas, there is a growing need for viable car alternatives. IGowise aims to fulfill this need and provide a compelling solution that meets the aspirations and requirements of diverse urban populations.
TechGraph: Many consumers are still hesitant to switch to electric vehicles due to concerns about battery life and charging infrastructure. How does iGowise address these concerns for its customers?
Sravan Appana: Charging infrastructure is a significant concern for various electric vehicles, including cars, auto-rickshaws, and high-performance electric sports bikes. However, it is equally crucial for urban scooters, like charging smartphones.
Many brands have chosen a smaller and cheaper 48V architecture, which comes with its own drawbacks. This architecture requires higher current rating wires, leading to increased electric losses due to resistance, and necessitates more insulation.
Moreover, it takes a considerable amount of time to charge and creates a reliance on dedicated fast-charging infrastructure. Frequent use of fast charging can significantly reduce the battery life. At iGo, we have taken a different approach. We have opted for a long-life LMFP (Lithium Magnesium Ferro Phosphate) battery chemistry, and our scooters utilize a 72V architecture.
This unique architecture enables our customers to conveniently plug their scooters into any household charger for swift charging, without any dependency or compromise on the lifespan of the battery. This approach provides flexibility and ease of charging, enhancing the overall user experience.
TechGraph: How do you ensure the safety and reliability of your electric bikes, and what measures do you take to address any potential issues or concerns?
Sravan Appana: iGo’s core mission is to address the inherent challenges related to safety, comfort, and accessibility prevalent in traditional two-wheelers. To ensure a reliable and high-performing product, we have conducted extensive on-road testing across various terrains, weather conditions, and usage patterns, covering 1000s of KMs.
Despite our thorough testing, we acknowledge that there may still be unforeseen glitches, as customers often find creative ways to utilize our products. To mitigate such issues, we employ usage monitoring and data-driven analytics. This approach helps us proactively identify and address recurring issues, as well as shape incentives that encourage proper usage and charging behaviors.
In addition, we have established distributed and mobile service stations equipped with ample spare parts supplies. This setup significantly reduces service turnaround time and facilitates quicker and more efficient customer concern resolution. By prioritizing customer support and service, we aim to provide a seamless experience and ensure customer satisfaction
TechGraph: How has the pandemic affected electric bike demand in India, and how has iGowise adapted to these changes?
Sravan Appana: The pandemic has had a significant impact on public mobility, leading iGowise to pivot toward personal mobility solutions. While traditional bike demand fluctuated, factors such as geopolitical uncertainties, the need to reduce oil imports, and increasing awareness of climate change concerns have fueled a remarkable surge in eBike demand. Consumers, whether in cars or bikes, are unwilling to compromise on their preferences. They seek a balance between sustainability and luxury, stability and ease of handling, utility and performance, and status and affordability.
iGowise is excellently positioned to cater to these demands with its unique patented technology and innovative ground-up design. By prioritizing sustainability, leveraging cutting-edge technology, and focusing on customer-centric design, iGowise is poised to capture the growing eBike market and provide consumers with an exceptional riding experience that seamlessly combines environmental consciousness, comfort, performance, and style.
TechGraph: How do you prioritize sustainability and environmental impact in electric bike production and manufacturing?
Sravan Appana: While achieving 100% green manufacturing may still be a challenge, iGowise recognizes the importance of taking small steps that can make a significant impact. We have chosen LMFP chemistry for our batteries. This not only offers long life and fire resistance but also avoids unethical practices associated with mining nickel and cobalt in certain countries.
In addition, we are committed to solar power, aiming to cover 50-100% of our manufacturing energy needs with renewables, depending on geographical location. Another sustainable choice we make is using metal panels instead of plastic, not only for their durability but also as a more eco-friendly alternative.
Furthermore, our distributed micro-factory model and high-quality flat-packing kits enable easy localized assembly, reducing our transportation footprint by 50-60% as we strive to deliver our products to end customers. Through these measures, iGowise aims to prioritize sustainability and minimize our environmental impact. In addition, we provide robust and reliable mobility solutions to our valued customers.
TechGraph: What are your plans for expanding iGowise’s reach and market share in the coming years, both within India and internationally?
Sravan Appana: iGowise recognizes the alarming fatality rates associated with two-wheelers, which are relied upon by 80% of the emerging world. Our mission extends beyond our own ambitions and capacity as we strive to make a significant impact on improving two-wheeler safety.
We embrace partnerships with like-minded organizations and are currently engaged in discussions with channel partners worldwide, from Singapore to Spain, Pakistan to Peru. Our approach to scaling involves the establishment of numerous micro and nano-factories dispersed strategically to ensure scalability and quality service delivery.
TechGrah: How does iGowise approach to customer service and support, and what sets your company apart in terms of customer satisfaction and feedback?
Sravan Appana: At iGowise, we prioritize the first pillar of great service, delivering a high-quality, reliable, and durable product. To ensure this, we have conducted extensive on-road testing, covering 1000s of KMs across various terrains, weather conditions, and usage patterns.
However, we understand that there may still be initial glitches, considering the diverse ways customers utilize our products. While we have reservations from over 15 states and 7 countries, our initial focus will be on rural Karnataka, followed by the southern and western regions of India. We will then expand further.
To provide efficient customer support, we have established distributed micro-factories and mobile service stations. This setup significantly reduces service turnaround time, allowing for easier and faster customer issue resolution. One of the major bottlenecks in service stations is spare parts availability.
We have addressed this concern by ensuring abundant spares availability and enabling easy maintenance at any local workshop, adhering to the fundamental principle of right-to-repair. Our proprietary stabilization and self-balancing technology will have dedicated personnel focusing on this aspect, while the rest of the vehicle is designed to be easily repairable, ensuring high availability and convenience for customers.