Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Can Ultraviolette Automotive deliver a high-performance EV motorcycle?

The Bengaluru based EV startup will launch the commercial version of its first all-electric performance bike soon, which the founders believe will beat the best of the petrol-powered motorcycles

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Nov 18, 2021 11:56:33 AM IST
Updated: Nov 18, 2021 12:23:54 PM IST

Ultraviolette Automotive cofounders Narayan Subramaniam and Niraj Rajmohan

Most EV makers in India have focussed on the mass-market segments so far, in making scooters and three-wheelers, but there is of course plenty of opportunity to get the pulse racing with an exciting high-performance motorcycle. That is what Narayan Subramaniam and Niraj Rajmohan have set out to do at their Bengaluru startup Ultraviolette Automotive.

Ultraviolette is close to launching the commercial version of its first all-electric performance bike, called F77, that the founders believe will beat the best of the petrol guzzling motorcycles out there in the 300-500 cc category that the bike is targeting.

“What we’ve built is an electric motorcycle that can take the internal combustion engine [ICE] competition head on and outcompete them in terms of acceleration, top speed and all the usual parameters used to evaluate sports motorcycles,” Rajmohan says.

The duo knew each other from their school days, and over the years worked on several projects together. “One thing we have in common is our passion for cross-functional innovation and value-add for creative implementation of technology for different use cases,” Subramaniam says.

They started talking about Ultraviolette in 2015 and established the company the following year. The rise of Tesla was also inspiring and they knew that EVs were the future. And they see themselves more as a hi-tech company in the mobility space, while their first product happens to be a motorcycle. The focus on the hi-tech aspects is because much of the tech is becoming commoditised, Subramaniam says.

Their respective backgrounds are complementary as well. Subramaniam brings the hard-core automative engineering and design expertise—he has worked at some of the biggest names in the auto sector—and Rajmohan adds the computer science and electronics knowledge.

Beyond the performance of the F77, Ultraviolette will also offer several differentiated features and services that are possible on an EV, including sophisticated diagnostics and various aspects of after-sales service “that we see as disrupting and are innovating on”, Subramaniam says.

The F77 was unveiled just before the Covid-19 pandemic, and since then has gone through several iterations of improvements. Today, all the 70-plus team members, and their families, at the company have had their two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the slowdown imposed by the pandemic came as a blessing in disguise as well.

In terms of battery performance and the on-board electronics, “I think we’ve successfully leapfrogged an entire generation of updates that will roll out in the production version of the motorcycle,” he says. That rollout is slated for early next year, and the F77 is expected to be priced around ₹3 lakh.

(This story appears in the 19 November, 2021 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)