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This E-scooter Manufacturer Boasts of Mileage that its Competitors Cannot Lohia Auto incepted the idea of manufacturing e-vehicle decades ago which has been formulated now

By Komal Nathani

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To build a business empire that India could remember for generations, a small town industrialist Narain Kumar Lohia went ahead of his time to shape his dreams into reality, and set up a conglomerate that is now called Lohia Global.

A small part of the multi-business group, Lohia Auto, has earned government recognition and is working in its most-awaited project of launching electronic vehicles on Indian roads.

At a time when buying a car was a luxurious deal for many in India, Lohia dreamt of a futuristic idea to manufacture electric vehicles. But due to the stringent regulations on transportation in 1990s, the idea couldn't be executed then. And it almost took a decade to materialize the project.

To put late grandfather's dream on global map, the third generation entrepreneur of Lohia Industries Ayush Lohia took the reins of business in his hands to accomplish the mission.

Electric Vision to Transform India

In 2008 when Narain Kumar Lohia gave the leadership of Lohia Auto to Ayush, he wanted to revolutionize India with green clean transportation. There were two primary reasons, said Ayush. "One was pollution, and second was the idea of saving foreign currency in giving and buying crude oil," he added. Since the company had been the leading exporter of crude oil, Lohias' had a deep understanding of investing foreign currency into the business, which could help them in longer run.

After learning the dynamics of business, while working under other verticals of family business, Ayush was ready to take up the million dollar project of manufacturing electric vehicles in 2009.

Challenges Faced in Driving the Growth Engine

At an early age, Ayush cut his teeth in business to create awareness about the use of electric vehicles and give company an identity in market. Under the immense pressure of stringent policies on the permission of electronic vehicles in India, Lohia Auto went through a lot of ups and downs. But company left no stone unturned to overcome a queue of challenges.

When in 2009-12 the entire industry was reeling under tremendous pressure because of certain reasons, Lohia Auto was trying to get the subsidies, relaxation in custom and excise duties for electronic vehicles.

"As most of the key components that come in use while manufacturing the product had to get imported in India, therefore convincing government was a big necessity at that time," said Ayush. But the major challenge we face is to change the minds of consumers.

When asked about choosing the two and three-wheeler segment in EVs, Ayush said, then and even now 70% of the consumers use two-wheelers in India. We wanted to start catering our services from B2B spaces at first.

When asked about what differentiates Lohia products in market? Ayush said, "We are giving mileage of almost on one charge 50-80kms. Normally, other e-vehicles give 40-50kms on one charge."

Battle for Clear cut Long Term Policy for EVs

On being asked what changes he had brought in the business, Ayush said, "There was no support at that time. To bring the relaxation in the custom and excise duties, we had to convince government." Because of the existing presence in industry, Lohia Auto got the JV done with a US-based company.

In 2014, when PM Narendra Modi got elected, Transport Minister Gadkari was instrumental to take up the e-vehicle in game.

"We got the approval of 3 vehicles. That time it was illegal. We never wanted to do any work which is illegal. There is no clear cut policy on e-vehicles. That still needs to be standardized.," said Ayush.

When asked about profitability of business model for the long run, Ayush emphatically said, "I clearly know that this is the future of vehicle market. The only question is how to sustain this model in the market. That's how we got into gasoline vehicles. That's our strategy and we are working on it religiously."

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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