In conversation with Rajit Arya, the CEO of Artem

Artem is a Mumbai-based start-up. The company led by Rajit Arya, the CEO, will be launching its new M9 electric scooter that is claimed to be the safest in India. Why is that so you may ask? A few days ago, Artem had released a teaser image of the scooter and some details along with it. While the launch is still sometime away, we had an email conversation with Rajit to find out what the hullabaloo was all about.

Lijo Mathai (LM): Doesn’t radar technology require clearance from  the government? How do you plan on obtaining it?
Rajit Arya (RA): Automotive grade radar is being looked upon by the government to make them legal. Some European car makers have already received a nod for AEB. As for Artem, we are still in product development phase and are at least a year away from roll out. While we have not begun liasioning for the same, we are closely monitoring the developments and are in touch with gov. agencies.
LM: Where is Artem going to get finance from and how soon?
RA: We are looking to raise institutional capital from vc/pe funds for our early requirements. Thereafter we will look for strategic capital at growth stage post roll out. We are hopeful to close our series A round in three months.
LM: Is Artem going to manufacture its own battery cell or outsource?
RA: No, we don’t plan on manufacturing our own cell for the reason of economies of scale. We will be making our battery modules and packs in house. Cell manufacturing will be considered after achieving certain volume thresh holds.
LM: What’s the life of the battery?
RA: It is still under testing and validation, but we aim to cross the global industry standard of 1000 cycles.
LM: Will the smart helmet be part of the scooter or an optional accessory?
RA: It will be sold separately. Our product is the scooter. The Smart Helmet will be an added accessory for more optimum use of ADAS features as well as general safety. Smart Helmets have the capability to provide the rider with critical data and information, in addition to ADAS.
LM: Do you think there is a scope for this technology to work in India considering the traffic conditions and where every street will have some unwarranted hazard just around the corner? Wouldn’t the system be distracting to the rider giving him warning every second instance?
RA: The system will kick-in during situations that require it. For example, forward collision avoidance system will not generate alerts to the rider at speeds below 35 kmph. These algorithms will constantly evolve based on the data our systems receive.
Too early to talk about this, but we have partnered with a global top five design and engineering firm to work on infrastructure design for India. The idea is to not become a infrastructure firm, but to use that knowledge for development of our systems. This is being done because we have a strong belief that it is not only vehicle error and human error that causes accidents. In a large number accidents, the design of the road is also to blame.
LM: Will the people embrace such hi-tech scooter and what do your customer clinics say about the same?
RA: Our plan is to make our scooters capable to handle situations with minimal rider interference. When systems are highly automated, adoption is higher. If the UX is very complex, then yes it will be difficult to get people to use these technologies. People will embrace this tech. It solves a major pain point, the most important one in our opinion, that of safety.
LM: What’s the expected price and timeline of launch?
RA: This will be revealed in the coming months, but can say right now that our core focus is to make these technologies available at viable price points to ensure adoption. We are not developing concept vehicles that few can actually buy. Safety is a mass issue, not that of a few people, and we are very aware of that.
LM: When are the dealers going to be appointed and how many dealerships/service centres will be up and running before the product is showcased?
RA: We have a very different plan for distribution. Will talk about it closer to roll out.
LM: What will be the expected warranty?
RA: Again, lot of scope for innovation in this. Will talk about it closer to roll out

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