Lockdown – Challenge or opportunity for innovation in transportation: In conversation with Raja, founder GMW

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,
Fire Up Founder Insights series 3rd edition, hosted by our COO, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Raja, founder Gayam Motor Works:

Started in 2012 and coming from Gayam brothers – the power-performing duos, GMW is India’s electric mobility company with clients including IKEABIgbasket, Sokowatch (Kenya), Flipkart (Walmart), Amazon, Grofers, Delhivery and Municipal Corporations. As quoted by Economic times, Gayam motor works(GMW) is world’s frst company to develop an electric three-wheeler with Li-Ion battery, with a battery swapping system.

“The problem is not making an Electric Vehicle, everyone can do that. But to make it lighter with same strength and capacity with enough battery backup to last is tricky”

The company’ 3-wheeler SmartAuto range of electric vehicles are powered by lithium ion batteries and have superior performance. They have been designed with swappable batteries which gives flexibility to our customers during their operations. The vehicles are connected to the cloud to monitor performance, track the location and monitor battery health.

The E-rickshaws, although good for 1-3 kms on flat roads, have low load bearing capacity and lasts for 6-8 months while the customer demand is for a lighter and robust vehicle that lasts for 6-7 years. The team recognized it as the problem and identified last mile delivery services as their niche.

“Since there are variants available and customers are not happy with most of them, it took us 6 months to 1 year for convincing for the demo”

Talk about customer saturation with the disappointments! The team had to face longer sales cycle but only for the better as through referrals and word-of-mouth, the sales surged.

Innovations to make it different and robust:

  • Reduced the weight of the vehicle, maintaining strength using Al composites
  • Batteries are swappable in <1min making it appropriate for mass production and customer convenience
  • Connected battery packs and vehicles to the cloud –information based system for customer to make decisions

GMW also export their products to the UK, Japan, Kenya, Nepal and Lebanon. There have been several media coverage including CNN international for swapping station deployment, CTO featured on the list of FORBES Asia 30 under 30 etc. The company has won various international awards for their innovation.
You could also see Jeff Bezos driving a GMW on internet!

Opportunities and Challenges during COVID-19

The company is surviving the crisis as well as converting the opportunities during lockdown. “We are a production company in the end, hence got affected due to the lockdown” said Raja. While there is a manufacturing downtime going on, a team of 2-3 members is still actively working for R&D to add more features to the vehicles.

“The order size has increased instead of the no. of orders, making it ideal to use our vehicles”

The vehicles are getting a lot of demand from Europe because of their form factor, enough capacity as well as volume and suitability for European road conditions.

The Growth Hack tip for other startups

Make sure you target the decision-makers in the organisation through your demos or presentations. Get help from institutions like incubators to get the connects to these decision-makers.

Would love to drive a GMW one day! 🙂

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE