One of India’s First Auto Makers Plan a Tesla-Themed EV Comeback

One of India’s First Auto Makers Plan a Tesla-Themed EV Comeback

India’s oldest car firm desires to get again into automobiles, by launching new EVs. Before ‘aatmanirbhar’ was a slogan, Kunnath Ayyath Balakrishna Menon constructed what is maybe the primary absolutely Indian-made automobile. Over the years, the Aravind Model Three pale into obscurity, however his grandson, Ratish Ramachandran, is taking a leaf out of the Tesla toolkit, and plans to revive the model and launch new EVs, citing Elon Musk as an inspiration.

As Ramachandran spoke to Gadgets 360 about how Aravind Automobiles got here into being, he immediately transported me again to the 1950s. In the 1950s post-independence India, Menon noticed that there was an enormous marketplace for fully reconditioned and rebuilt automobiles. This led to the institution of Prompt Motors, his car workshop, in 1952. But it was a journey from Kottayam to Thiruvananthapuram in 1955 in his 1947 Studebaker Champion that turned the 38-years-old Menon’s life the wrong way up and led to the creation of what’s, maybe, the primary fully indigenously-produced automobile in India, Ramachandran defined. He advised us that Menon met with an accident through the journey which fully wrecked his automobile and landed him within the hospital for 3 months. He got here out of the hospital to the information that Prompt Motors needed to shut down.

When Menon got here to find out about what occurred to his beloved Studebaker, he determined to rebuild it. As Menon would often go to the Aurobindo Ashram in (then) Pondicherry, he named the corporate after the non secular chief, calling it Aravind. Since the automobile needed to be constructed once more from scratch he determined to vary its form.

The automobile that he in-built a brand new avatar in 1955 was known as the Aravind Iddy Champion, one of many solely three automobiles produced by Aravind Automobiles. In Malayalam, the phrase ‘iddy’ means hit or punch. The identify appeared perfect for the automobile which took a large blow however but managed to make a comeback.

The Aravind Iddy Champion – in Malayalam, the phrase ‘iddy’ means hit or punch
Photo Credit: Aravind Automobiles

The subsequent automobile by Menon got here virtually 10 years later, in 1965. Menon constructed the second automobile from Aravind Automobiles, the Model 2: Aravind Palace Special for the Maharaja of Travancore. The Palace Special was constructed by Menon utilizing the engine of a 1939 Cadillac Fleetwood belonging to the Cowdiar Palace, Trivandrum. The development of the automobile which price Rs. 15,000 again in 1965 took about 10 months to be accomplished. The Palace Special caught the eye of some essential eyes within the car circles with an American journal remarking that they “shudder to think what the costs would have been if American craftsmen had been used for this project”.

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The Palace Special was constructed by Menon utilizing the engine of a 1939 Cadillac Fleetwood
Photo Credit: Aravind Automobiles

In 1966, Menon got here out with prototypes of Model Three particularly for India’s Small Car Project. The automobile was known as the Aravind ‘Baby’ Model 3; the automobile was like Menon’s child, in response to his grandson, Ramachandran. The Model Three was a traditional sedan. A couple of components of the automobile together with the engine and the gearbox got here from a Fiat 1100 Delight. Menon’s imaginative and prescient was a automobile for the rising India. But what was to come back was not so nice for Menon.

Lost in licensing

Once the prototype was in place, Menon went on to use for an industrial licence from the Union Government which was headed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The authorities responded to Menon’s request asking for additional clarification concerning sure technical elements of Model 3. No file of the replies are to be discovered.

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The Aravind Model Three in its present state
Photo Credit: Instagram/ Aravind Automobiles

Four years later, in 1970, Aravind Automobiles was offered in Lok Sabha together with a fleet of 16 auto firms in search of license to mass produce in India, Ramachandran stated. The Ministry of Heavy Industry rejected Menon’s proposal and his grandson advised us that the rejection of his masterpiece hit Menon onerous. The very subsequent yr, in July 1971, Menon died of a coronary heart assault.

Menon’s grandson Ramachandran is following in the identical spirit that noticed Prompt Motors get revived as Aravind Automobiles — he plans to relaunch the model with luxurious and efficiency EVs ala Tesla.

Comeback children

Ramachandran, an car engineer by career, labored within the publishing business as nicely earlier than deciding to shift his focus to Aravind Automobiles. Ever since Ramachandran grew to become conscious of the importance of the model and the magnum opus that his grandfather had created, he has at all times wished to relaunch it.

“Tesla has been a very important deciding factor…,” mentions Ramachandran when requested about his choice to restart the model as an electrical car, “Elon (Musk) is not a car person at all. That gave me a lot of guts to pursue this.”

Talking about his ambitions for the Aravind Model 5 idea, codenamed Halcyon, Ramachandran remarks, “We are going to make the first Indian car to hit the speed record on the Nürburgring…That is our target”.

As of now there isn’t any form of the automobile. Ramachandran signifies that Model 5 will likely be a distinct segment manufacturing sedan. The firm is trying to produce someplace between 500-800 automobiles within the first spherical. He is not certain the place the precise worth vary of the EV will stand. “I would give a range between Rs. 1.5 crores to 2.5 crores for the entry level models,” says Ramachandran. In comparability, you should buy the bottom mannequin of a Tesla Roadster for $200,000 (roughly Rs.1.four crores); and Tesla seems to be on the verge of entering India now.

The funding for the corporate continues to be in its “infancy stage, the money has started coming in but it is trickling in from angel investors,” stated Ramachandran.

“We’ve went through the FFF funding, which was about a $100,000 (roughly Rs. 72.4 lakhs)… We’ve got a lot of companies and individuals who are very keen from the US and UK to put it (the money) in. We are looking at about five million (roughly Rs. 36 crores) but we will only be getting a part of that (now)… I would say, we are 10 percent of the five million through,” he added.

Talking concerning the doable launch date of the EV, Ramachandran stated, “We are aiming for February 23, 2026 for the launch for the functional prototype. The date marks 60 years since the release of Model 3 by KAB Menon.”

He plans to begin promoting the EV “within a few months of the launch…We have started developing a concept drawing and we have started assembling the team. The team currently comprises 3D model professionals and two engineers among others.” First although, the corporate plans to work on “the restoration of Model 3 and creation of Model 5.” He added, “if you compare the two, the importance would be for Halycon in terms of time invested.”

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