Published: 01st September 2021
These NIT Tiruchy grads might just revolutionise India's bike market with their hybrid that runs on fuel and electricity
Blaer Motors is an NIT Tiruchy-incubated start-up that is creating tech to seamlessly integrate hybrid powertrains in vehicles. We find out how
Hybrid electric vehicles are a combination of electric and fuel engines. It is a system where these two diverse engines come together and make the vehicle run. And to do that, there is a need for electronics and automation to ensure that the two engines work seamlessly. This is where Blaer Motors comes in. A technology start-up founded by four National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli graduates, Abinesh Ekambaram, Ashwin Badri, Adarsh Lakshmanan and Niranjan Kumar, Blaer Motors builds tech that helps integrate hybrid powertrains with other equipment of a vehicle.
The start-up, which is incubated in NIT Tiruchy's Center for Entrepreneurship Development and Incubation (CEDI), recently received a Rs 2.61 crore investment from The Chennai Angels, an angel investment company. "We are planning to use the funds to increase our research and development capacity and also improve the infrastructure," says Abinesh. The Chennai Angels funding is their first external funding after their initial seed funding of Rs 25 lakh from NIT Tiruchy. "We have been bootstrapping ever since, taking on small engineering projects on a freelance basis to make the company run," adds Abinesh.
The prototype of the hybrid motorbike
In 2012, when Abinesh and his three batchmates decided to work on hybrid powertrains as part of their final-year thesis, they knew that they wanted to do more. "Electric vehicles hadn't penetrated the market yet but hybrid vehicles were making waves in the West. Since India is a two-wheeler dominant country, we wanted to create a hybrid powertrain for two-wheelers," says Abinesh. While they succeeded in building one for their college, it took them another four years to perfect the prototype and approach vehicle manufacturers with their technology.
Another four years later, the 29-year-olds have now moved beyond two-wheelers, although it still remains their flagship product. They are now focused on making hybrid and electric powertrains for three and four-wheelers. "We want to make hybrid commercial vehicles. The technology is still in the research and development phase. The funding will be mainly utilised for this purpose," explains Abinesh, who leads a team of eight along with his co-founders. "Our team is quite limited as we are only looking for core engineering skills," adds Abinesh.
While they would have finished the research and development by now, the lockdowns have severely hindered their work. "We have to work on-site and remote working is not possible. Therefore, we had to stop our processes during the lockdown. As soon as it was allowed, we came back to the office," says Abinesh. However, Abinesh says that he and the co-founders didn't just sit and twiddle their thumbs during the lockdowns, they utilised the time brainstorming and ideating. "It was a good downtime and we were able to get a break from our regular work to get back to the drawing board," says Abinesh. With fresh perspective comes fresh ideas!