Strom R3 to have a price point of Rs 4,00,000 and a running cost of 40p per km
Powered by a 15 kW motor and 10-16 kWh battery pack, claims a range of 200 km and a top speed of 80km/h
Will offer a large sunroof, Automatic Vehicle Following System and Remote Assisted Parking System
The e-mobility space in India is brimming with innovation and excitement. One of the unique players in the space is Mumbai-based Strom Motors, who are expected to launch a fully electric 2-seater car Strom-R3 in the second half of the year 2020. The car is compact (2907mm x 1450mm x 1572mm), has a kerb weight of 550 kg and built on a reverse trike configuration (two wheels in front and one wheel at the back).
Slow EV Adoption – the prime motivator
While the high price difference between Electric Cars and conventional ICE cars keeps buyers away from the EVs, Pratik Gupta, Founder at Strom Motors, recognised the need to innovate and provide an affordable electric personal-mobility product. “When we were looking at the EV market four years back, it was very easy to foresee the slow adoption because the heavyweight four-wheelers will not be viable for over a decade. It then became a choice, if we wanted to sit on the sidelines and wait for the battery prices to come down or innovate and select a bold platform like reverse trike so that we can accelerate the adoption of EVs by 5-6 years,” says Pratik.
Strom-R3 has recently received ARAI approval after swiftly passing almost all major tests including safety with no redesign. However, being a first of its kind reverse trike in India, the team did face a few hiccups around the interpretation of a few rules, particularly around the position of lights and lamps.
Comparison with conventional cars
When compared to other compact ICE hatchbacks, the three-wheeled Strom R3 claims to offer the same stability, more efficiency and 40% less weight. The car is priced at Rs 4,00,000 and claims a super-economical running cost of 40p per km. Range of 200 km and storage space in front and back makes it suitable for everyday personal use. The top speed of the car is electronically limited at 80km/h.
Strom R3 claims to be benchmarked against the best of hatchbacks in the market when it comes to acceleration. A big powerhouse of 15 kW AC induction motor was chosen to deliver high performance and speed. “Electric motors, when pushed to the limits, tend to run under reduced efficiency causing energy loses. Its 15kW motor helps the car stay in the linear efficiency range at all times giving better range even when driven at high speeds”, informed Pratik.
The two-seater has a charging time of 3 hours. When it comes to EVs, one of the main worries of the users is the cost of replacement of the worn-out battery pack after short-term usage. In case of Strom-R3, the battery is designed to last about 1 lakh km before replacement, as per this Hindu report. Strom-R3 uses the industry-standard 48V battery packs which makes them suitable for second life deployment in stationary applications like UPS storage or emergency backup applications with minimal re-work. The company is said to be in discussion with multiple parties for reuse of its end of life batteries.
Safety Features of Strom R3
The car uses an extremely rigid and lightweight space frame design. The high tensile steel used is the same that is used to make race car roll cages and coupled with crashworthy seats and 3-point seat belt system to enhance the safety of the platform. Pratik claims that in internal crash tests, the platform has shown even better results than other cars and even SUVs on the market. The company plans to add airbags starting 2021 for complete protection.
Advanced Features of Strom R3
While learning more about the car, we were surprised to find some advanced features that have been made available at this price point. Strom-R3 boasts of a large sunroof, Automatic Vehicle Following System (AVFS) and Remote Assisted Parking System – features generally associated with high-end luxury cars. AVFS can help make driving in bumper to bumper Indian traffic less inconvenient, while remote assisted parking feature can come handy in limited space parking generally available in Indian conditions. Strom team relied on smart hardware selection to keep the costs down and make the features available at the given price point.
“Costs are a function of engineering complexity and intelligent use case design”, observes Pratik. “Vehicle assists technologies take years to test and perfect, so it was important that we begin working on it sooner than our competitors. We started work on it in 2018 and made it an integral part of the design and currently are in advanced stage of development. Our public release plans for these features are in 2021. Having said that, all the cars coming off the line have the basic drive-by-wire systems built into it and will be upgraded with driver assist and autonomy features with little hardware and software upgrades for existing owners. Future readiness is the main ethos of our design philosophy.”
The start-up uses a network of domestic manufacturers for its core powertrain and related components. Working with local partners helped them keep their inventory time frame shorter and costs lower by minimising duty fees.
Strom Motors raised an undisclosed amount of angel fund from Indian Angel Network in 2018. Pratik feels that the startup eco-system in India is still very new and needs a lot of encouragement both from government and citizens. Sharing his views on his start-up experience and the ease of doing business in the country, Pratik said, “One needs to realize that startups begin their journey at a huge disadvantage against the established players in almost all fields. These entities are fueled by pure passion and grit to keep walking against all odds. Even small setbacks like a delayed payment or rule change can be a cause of failure. A little sensitivity towards the hard work before you judge or disregard their product or service would help ease of doing business more than any metrics will ever be able to capture. “