Here is where Krishna’s background helped. Krishna is a Ph.D from IIT Bombay. And when he puts his mind to an engineering problem, it gets solved. Felidae had already mastered the heart of the cycle, the controller, in the first two years of their existence. They had a team of electronics and software professionals who worked on the same. My friends at Chheda Electricals are working on the BMS. And I hope that the BMS will be in place by Oct 21. Now it was time for the mechanicals. The most challenging component was the motor. Most EV manufacturers, even the likes of Hero Electric, are still importing motors from China. So for Felidae, with the very low volumes that they work with currently, taking on this project, was a big risk. Krishna decided to go in for a geared motor. This meant developing the rotor pressure die casting, the stator, the planetary gears and the clutch. Working with Indian vendors also means making them understand the importance of fits and tolerances required for a smooth ride. Work is required on tolerances to reduce noise and vibration.
In India Ludhiana is the big hub for cycle manufacturing. But Felidae was looking at vendors in the vicinity, so that coordination was easier. Nasik based Slidewell Meilleur Tech, who were earlier vendors to TI cycles’ Sinnar plant, were chosen for that. They took some time to develop the frame, but the production has been streamlined now. The good news is that they are also working on the next generation of aluminum frames for Felidae.
Last was the battery casing. This was relatively simple because it is a static part, with aluminum extrusion and injection molded parts. Battery assembly meant stations for resistance welding. I hope that as the numbers go up, Felidae switches over to laser welding. The internal resistance of the battery and joints plays a big role in efficiency. And we need to squeeze out every wh from the pack. Suggestion is that batteries need to be stored in an AC room, so that they do not deteriorate. Also in the next version, the frame design should be modified, so that the battery is partly inside the frame. Have had my Felidae battery fall down twice while riding.
Vendor quality is an issue that the Felidae team needs to tackle on high priority. In the disc brake setting, I have not been able to get the friction to go away from the front wheel of the Maven I am riding. We need to have SOP for brake setting, especially if we are dispatching for online sales. We also need to look at improving the quality of crank wheel cover. The one fitted on my cycle has come off, with all its screws sheared off.
Felidae has also plans for having an independent components business under the name Dogra. One idea is to add a built up single gear rear wheel. It would be appreciated by DIY folks, as it will reduce the assembly complexity. Small size spokes are not easily available in most places. Also, with higher value add, margins can be better.
We had a discussion about pricing. With raw material prices spiralling, Felidae team is finding it difficult to hold prices at 24.5 K for the Maven. I feel that the price can be revised. We should keep a small premium over Hero Lectro. Lectro is the real competitor for benchmarking. More about Lectro in the footnote. We can up the Maven price to about 26,500. We should sell accessories separately: mud guards, special seats, bells, health related software on app etc. These yield better margins for both dealers and Felidae.
At PluginIndia, we would like that all cycles have front and rear tail lamps. These are more important for safety than helmets, methinks. The light assembly costs Rs. 400. Wonder why it costs so much? Krishna has promised that the tail light development will happen by the end of June 21. There will be no separate switch for the tail lamp. The current Maven harness does not allow cycle battery driven lights to be fitted. Hope that this is rectified in the next lot. Also some clarity on when Euras, or multi speed cycles will be available. Kamlesh suggested that we take down cycles from the site, whose stocks Felidae do not have.
Manufacturer Website - www.felidaeelectric.com
If you want to speak to the people at Felidae, you may fill the form - https://bit.ly/FE_RESPONSES