Backed by Bharat Forge, Tork Motors, an electric motorcycle manufacturing company, aims to update its future products with advanced technological benefits and extend its technology to power high potential three-wheelers.
What started in 2010 as a passion project for Kapil Shelke, evolved into building India’s first electric motorcycle with proprietary drive train technology – TIROS (Tork Intuitive Response Operating System), the intelligence that drives the machines. Prior to building Tork Motors, Shelke worked as a Chief Technical Officer with Zong Shen, one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in China. It was Shelke’s passion for motorcycles that led him towards building the first prototype of the electric motorcycle, and resulted in him winning the Isle of Man thrice – the Mecca of motorcycle racing. “This was a turning point and my passion for motorcycling took a serious turn with the launch of Tork Motors for building electric motorcycles at scale,” explained Shelke. The Isle of Man also presented a massive opportunity to interact with engineers from across the globe and helped him understand what was lacking with respect to technology and people skills in the space.
It was around this time that Shelke started learning about electric vehicles (EVs), and realised that no one was taking into account electric motorcycles. Having been built on the back of 7 years of research and development, the T6X by Tork Motors is now set to become India’s first electric performance motorcycle. Connected with a mobile app, cloud connectivity, integrated GPS, and in-built navigation capabilities, T6X is capable of providing real-time information and mapping driving cycles making it India’s first smart motorcycle. “We are the only Indian company that is locally sourcing and developing at least 85% of the motorcycle in-house which includes the battery management system, the charging infrastructure, the battery packs, motors, controllers among others”, added Shelke.
Tork Motors is backed by funds from the world’s second largest forging company Bharat Forge Ltd. With this partnership, Tork is on its journey from prototyping to manufacturing the T6X. The investment from Bharat Forge has enabled the team of over 50 people to fast-track their research capabilities resulting in their impending launch towards the end of 2019.
In two years, we see Tork Motors as the pioneer in not only electric two wheelers but a flagship technology provider for overall electric mobility.
Some of the motorcycles’ marquee features include; a 100 km for every charge, utility storage and TIROS (Tork Intuitive Response Operating System) which is its machine learning 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 and provides an accurate dynamic data range to estimate futuristic data collation. Equipped with fast charging capabilities and being completely electric, not only makes T6X eco-friendly but at the same time makes it cheaper than its petrol counterparts.
The Tork T6X has now gone beyond prototyping, and is currently undergoing a few final testing procedures and finishing touches to deliver a refined product towards the end of 2019. Initially, Tork Motors plans to roll out 5000 units of the Tork T6X in India. With a lot of speculation that the market for EVs is ripe for disruption, coupled with interest from potential customers, it goes without saying that the future is electric. “We’re extremely committed to disrupting the EV space and setting new standards for innovative and technologically advanced mobility,” explained Shelke.
“Currently, ‘Experience Tork’ sessions allow potential users to ride the T6X motorcycle under supervised conditions. Most of our target consumers have not experienced something similar in India. We also organise events which enable key stakeholders such as brand partners, government agencies and road transport authorities get familiarized with the T6X before it launches formally towards the end of the year”, said Shelke. Additionally, ‘Experience Tork’ stores will allow users to experience the motorcycle before the actual purchase.
Not without challenges
But the electric mobility revolution comes with its own set of challenges. For one there is a lack of a charging infrastructure in the country. Shelke explained, “There are other massive challenges like flawless battery technology, sourcing of electrical components, packaging of the critical components and, servicing of the electrical parts that a company has to take care of.”
These challenges, if not addressed will impact the adoption of electric mobility. Shelke added, “Tork Motors aims to bridge these gaps and challenges by building everything in-house; right from a battery management system, motors, controllers, battery packs, telematic systems, and even a charging infrastructure.”
Still, there is a glimmer of hope – the EV charging infrastructure in India is getting better each day as companies are working towards adopting this technology at a faster pace. India’s EV market is warming up with many players in 2W, 3W and 4W setting inroads. “With FAME II, we see the government taking an active interest in the EV sector which is a good move,” added Shelke. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, or FAME II scheme aims to boost electric mobility and increase the number of electric vehicles in commercial fleets. Additionally, the government recently issued a set of guidelines to set up charging stations for EVs in India; and is expecting 25 percent of the total vehicles on roads to be electric vehicles by 2030.
As part of their expansion and future plans, Tork aims to have exclusive distribution stores and install charging stations across Pune – their homebase – and then move to other cities. “In two years, we see Tork Motors as the pioneer in not only electric two-wheelers but a flagship technology provider for overall electric mobility. We aim to see our future products updated with advanced technological benefits related to charging, display, monitoring, and connectivity. Further, we can extend our technology to power three-wheelers (which is a huge market) as well,” explained Shelke.
For now though, the EV race in India continues with many companies joining in on the race to make India electric.
Company: Tork Motors
Founder: Kapil Shelke
Year of incorporation: 2010
City: Pune, Maharashtra
Funding details: Co-Founders of cab aggregator Ola, Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, have together invested Rs 45 lakh in Pune-based electric vehicle making startup Tork Motorcycles followed by a deal worth Rs 30 crore with Bharat Forge for a 45% stake. Ola founders and other angel investors such as CoCubes Co-Founder & CEO Harpreet Grover led the angel round in April 2016.
Company profile: Tork Motors is India’s first electric motorcycle startup with proprietary drive train technology, TIROS (Tork Intuitive Response Operating System), an intelligence that drives the machines. Their flagship motorbike, T6X, is built after 5 prototypes and 10 years of exhaustive research and development. Apart from analysis and compilation of data for every ride, power management, real time power consumption and range forecasts, TIROS also captures the driving patterns of the rider.