What I liked is the attention to detail and some interesting insights about the millennial bike rider. The analogy was to what Sony had to go through when it developed the Walkman. One thing that Rahul is clear about: the target customer - Young Urban Males, which could include the Swiggy delivery guy.
So its unfair to say that Revolt RV400 and RV300 is a Chinese product being sold here, when so much work has happened in India to get this on our roads.
After meeting the people, we are truly impressed by the passion, the technical knowhow, the willingness to educate people on EV's and the razor focus on electric vehicle tech.
The attempt has been to give the same riding experience as one gets in a normal ICE bike. The battery is below the fuel tank, (oops battery tank) so that the centre of gravity is almost at the same height as an ICE bike. Road clearance is good. And with IP65 certification, you can go through Pune’s famous road water bodies, without worrying about your vehicle stalling. The RV400 motor is a 3 KW motor with Field Oriented Control / Vector Drive, whatever that jargon means. There is regenerative braking - though again would be interesting to see how the software manages regen. Could not get a test ride. The top speed is 80 kmph, which is quite ok. The feedback that I got from Kamlesh is that the bike is quite zippy till about 50 kmph. After that, it gets sluggish. I guess this is because of having a single speed mid motor. A belt drive transfers power to the rear wheel.
The bike comes with a remote key. Being connected means that the company can immobilise your bike if your rentals are not paid. The SIM card is fused into the circuitry to make it tamper proof. Thankfully, the immobilisation feature does not work when the bike is running. (Hint for hackers.) The algorithm has taken care of the bike not being in range of the mobile network. But would be a challenge riding this in J and K, where mobile data has not been working for the last few months. On the hacking front, it would be a good idea for the hacker to purchase a cell phone jammer and see what happens to the bike. The company claims that it had organised the hackathon, where it invited hackers from all over the world to hack the bike. Evidently, no revolts happened.
The bike ticks a lot of boxes in the features department. It's got a teeny-weeny storage space below the fuel tank lid (Ok battery tank lid). It's got hooks to connect your elastic bands for loading a bag on the pillion seat. There are projector headlamps, so it would mean less maintenance. To make the IC engine user feel at home, It's got a menu of 4 exhaust sounds, 5 if you include silence, which the user can activate through his mobile app. It's got a 4g connection. It has an adjustable front foot rest, which can allow 95 percent of Indian riders to ride the bike in an ergonomic posture. But the confidence that I got in the bike does not come from the physical features, but the service offerings. For the first time, we are hearing of a manufacturer who is not taking a down payment, and selling the bike on a per month rental scheme. And at the end of the 3 years of rentals, you own the bike. Not too bad. It is a lot about the confidence that the manufacturer has that customers will not discontinue instalments, if they find their Revolts turning out to be lemons.
This leaves me wondering, how the Pune dealer, Mr. Firodia, would end up making money. Hero Electric, India’s largest e bike manufacturer, has learnt that not worrying about dealer RoI can be devastating. I don’t know of any dealer who has lasted more than a couple of years. The ones that survived have justified their rents by using their premises to do other stuff - like service regular IC engined bikes. Mr Firodia has to support two showrooms on the upmarket Senapati Bapat Road and in Kalyani Nagar, in addition to 8 swapping stations. (Btw, would be good if he offers a customer valet service at the no street parking SB Road center) And the showrooms have been done up well - the role model being the experience centres or Apple Store, as Revolt believes that consumer education is very important at this stage. Rahul shared with me that social media has made the dealers’ job simpler. Pune already has bookings for a couple of thousand bikes, even without guys having seen or tested the Revolt. Battery swapping is also another area for revenue generation for the dealer. Possibly the dealer can monetize the bike’s machine learning at a later time. For example, to sell cost effective insurance policies using rider data collected from the bike.
According to Rahul, there a lot of cost consciousness in the Indian customer. This is especially true of running cost. Rahul’s dad retired as a school principal. When Micromax was doing well, Rahul insisted that he buy a good car for his dad. So he decided to gift his dad a Mercedes. His dad insisted on buying a diesel, as running costs were lower for that. Price has been firmly on the radar right from the design stage. The RV300 is available at Rs. 2999 per month; you have to pay 37 months and the bike is yours. The RV400 is available at either of Rs. 3499 or Rs. 3999, depending on the version you choose. There is a lot of interest from fleet owners in the RV 300. At the event, Revolt also announced new prices for the cash down option. Rs. 98,999 for the RV400 and Rs. 84,999 for the RV300. Registration and insurance extra. Looks like a good deal to me. Might seriously look at investing in one after the test ride.
All in all, Revolt as a company appears to be very promising for the EV community, who are tired of waiting and waiting for the ICE motorcycle makers. There is now no excuse for the likes of TVS, Bajaj, Hero, Honda not to launch electric motorcycles. If Revolt can do it, so can they.
But for now let's all salute the entire team at Revolt for creating a stunning product and thinking a lot about education and the ecosystem for EV's. They have raised the bar.
We wish the team the best.