From Isle Of Man Beginnings To Getting Funded By Ola, The Journey Of Tork Motors
After a flurry of rumours and leaks, Tork Motors finally…
After a flurry of rumours and leaks, Tork Motors finally launched the Kratos and the Kratos R on Republic Day, yesterday. The highly anticipated electric motorcycle will be available for Rs 1.32 lakh for the standard variant, and Rs 1.47 lakh for the ‘R’ variant.
That said, in case you’re wondering who is this new entrant into India’s rapidly expanding electric mobility sector, here’s everything you need to know about Tork Motors:
Isle of Man beginnings (2009)
Kapil Shelke, Founder and CEO of Tork Motors, has always had an affinity towards everything that moves fast. Much of his childhood was spent dismantling and reassembling RC cars. Hence, it wasn’t much of a surprise when he decided to pursue Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pune.
It was here that he first saw videos of races at the Isle of Man TT. Wanting to put his learnings to the test, Shelke decided on a bold move. As a part of his final year project, he wanted to build an electric superbike that could take on the TT.
“We were living, breathing, and eating motorcycles those days,” the CEO says. So, with a budget of Rs 15 lakh (mostly pulled from friends and family), Shelke and his team came up with the “T1X.” The electric motorcycle, with a speed of 156kph, managed to grab a podium finish at its debut!
A second go at the Isle of Man (2010)
In an interview with Quartz India, Shelke mentions, “We came back, and nobody knew what we’d done. Once word got around, a lot of people said that this might be luck. So I said, ‘Let’s do this again.’”
And just like that, he was back on the tiny island, this time with a team of four members and an improved version of the T1X, called the T2X. By this time, the TTXGP (Electric GP of Isle of Man) had transformed into a six-round championship. Shelke’s team, astride the 214kph T2X, managed to win the first round, and eventually finished third overall.
A brief stint with Zongshen Motors (2012)
After leaving his job as a Production Manager at Agni Motors, he was offered a position at Zongshen, a large Chinese two-wheeler manufacturer. The company wanted Shelke’s expertise in building an electric superbike for its European team.
Early days with Tork Motors
At the same time, Shelke began to develop a side project of his own. He started to tinker with a 150cc Yamaha FZ, which he stripped down and re-built with electric internals, with a new name—the T4X.
After a successful drive of positive reviews, exploring the commercial market was soon on the list. With no delay, work on the T5X prototype started. Three months later, it was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo and took everyone by surprise.
A series of funding from Bhavish Aggarwal, Ankit Bhati and Ratan Tata
By September of 2016, Shelke had announced his intentions of entering the commercial EV space, and this time it was with his new company—Tork Motors. The e-bike startup raised funding from Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati of Ola. Even Ratan Tata chipped in with an undisclosed amount.
The objective of Tork Motors was to build “affordable, stylish and smart electric motorcycles for Indian masses.” A precursor to the Kartos, the T6X concept was unveiled to much fanfare at the 2016 Auto Expo.
Present and future
Currently, Bharat Forge earns a 60.66 percent share in Tork Motors. Under its umbrella, Shelke set up a factory in Chakan, and it’s what he calls a “micro-manufacturing model” that is capable of producing 40,000 units every year.
That said, Tork Motors has a huge hill to climb. Not only does it have to face competition from Ather Energy and Revolt Motors, but it also has to curb and face the ever-increasing demand of Indian consumers.