India’s oldest car firm desires to get again into vehicles, by launching new EVs. Earlier than ‘aatmanirbhar’ was a slogan, Kunnath Ayyath Balakrishna Menon constructed what is maybe the primary absolutely Indian-made automotive. Through the years, the Aravind Mannequin 3 light 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 Cars got here into being, he immediately transported me again to the Nineteen Fifties. Within the Nineteen Fifties post-independence India, Menon noticed that there was an enormous marketplace for fully reconditioned and rebuilt vehicles. This led to the institution of Immediate Motors, his car workshop, in 1952. However 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 automotive in India, Ramachandran defined. He advised us that Menon met with an accident through the journey which fully wrecked his automotive and landed him within the hospital for 3 months. He got here out of the hospital to the information that Immediate Motors needed to shut down.
When Menon got here to learn about what occurred to his beloved Studebaker, he determined to rebuild it. As Menon would incessantly go to the Aurobindo Ashram in (then) Pondicherry, he named the corporate after the religious chief, calling it Aravind. Because the automotive needed to be constructed once more from scratch he determined to alter its form.
The automotive that he inbuilt a brand new avatar in 1955 was referred to as the Aravind Iddy Champion, one of many solely three vehicles produced by Aravind Cars. In Malayalam, the phrase ‘iddy’ means hit or punch. The identify appeared perfect for the automotive which took an enormous blow however but managed to make a comeback.
The subsequent automotive by Menon got here virtually 10 years later, in 1965. Menon constructed the second automotive from Aravind Cars, the Mannequin 2: Aravind Palace Particular for the Maharaja of Travancore. The Palace Particular was constructed by Menon utilizing the engine of a 1939 Cadillac Fleetwood belonging to the Cowdiar Palace, Trivandrum. The development of the automotive which value Rs. 15,000 again in 1965 took about 10 months to be accomplished. The Palace Particular caught the eye of some necessary eyes within the car circles with an American journal remarking that they “shudder to suppose what the prices would have been if American craftsmen had been used for this mission”.
In 1966, Menon got here out with prototypes of Mannequin 3 particularly for India’s Small Automobile Venture. The automotive was referred to as the Aravind ‘Child’ Mannequin 3; the automotive was like Menon’s child, in line with his grandson, Ramachandran. The Mannequin 3 was a traditional sedan. Just a few elements of the automotive together with the engine and the gearbox got here from a Fiat 1100 Delight. Menon’s imaginative and prescient was a automotive for the rising India. However what was to return was not so nice for Menon.
Misplaced in licensing
As soon as the prototype was in place, Menon went on to use for an industrial licence from the Union Authorities which was headed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The federal government responded to Menon’s request asking for additional clarification relating to sure technical facets of Mannequin 3. No file of the replies are to be discovered.
4 years later, in 1970, Aravind Cars was offered in Lok Sabha together with a fleet of 16 auto firms searching for license to mass produce in India, Ramachandran stated. The Ministry of Heavy Business rejected Menon’s proposal and his grandson advised us that the rejection of his masterpiece hit Menon laborious. 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 Immediate Motors get revived as Aravind Cars — he plans to relaunch the model with luxurious and efficiency EVs ala Tesla.
Ramachandran, an car engineer by career, labored within the publishing business as properly earlier than deciding to shift his focus to Aravind Cars. Ever since Ramachandran turned conscious of the importance of the model and the magnum opus that his grandfather had created, he has all the time wished to relaunch it.
“Tesla has been an important deciding issue…,” mentions Ramachandran when requested about his choice to restart the model as an electrical automobile, “Elon (Musk) isn’t a automotive particular person in any respect. That gave me a variety of guts to pursue this.”
Speaking about his ambitions for the Aravind Mannequin 5 idea, codenamed Halcyon, Ramachandran remarks, “We’re going to make the primary Indian automotive to hit the velocity file on the Nürburgring…That’s our goal”.
As of now there isn’t a form of the automotive. Ramachandran signifies that Mannequin 5 might be a distinct segment manufacturing sedan. The corporate is trying to produce someplace between 500-800 vehicles within the first spherical. He is not certain the place the precise value vary of the EV will stand. “I’d give a variety between Rs. 1.5 crores to 2.5 crores for the entry degree fashions,” says Ramachandran. Compared, you should purchase the bottom mannequin of a Tesla Roadster for $200,000 (roughly Rs.1.4 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 cash has began coming in however it’s trickling in from angel traders,” stated Ramachandran.
“We have went by the FFF funding, which was a few $100,000 (roughly Rs. 72.4 lakhs)… We have a variety of firms and people who’re very eager from the US and UK to place it (the cash) in. We’re taking a look at about 5 million (roughly Rs. 36 crores) however we are going to solely be getting part of that (now)… I’d say, we’re 10 % of the 5 million by,” he added.
Speaking in regards to the potential launch date of the EV, Ramachandran stated, “We’re aiming for February 23, 2026 for the launch for the practical prototype. The date marks 60 years because the launch of Mannequin 3 by KAB Menon.”
He plans to begin promoting the EV “inside a couple of months of the launch…We’ve began creating an idea drawing and we’ve began assembling the workforce. The workforce at the moment includes 3D mannequin professionals and two engineers amongst others.” First although, the corporate plans to work on “the restoration of Mannequin 3 and creation of Mannequin 5.” He added, “should you evaluate the 2, the significance could be for Halycon by way of time invested.”
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