Uday Narang, the man who is building a champion Indian maker of electric vehicles without having raised any money yet


JTake a look at the vehicle for your next e-commerce delivery, chances are it’s an electric vehicle. Smaller packages can be transported on a two-wheeler, but slightly larger packages are offered in electric three-wheelers. If you live in Delhi NCR, you will notice that there are only three brands of these cargo-carrying electric three-wheelers. Sure, you have Mahindra and Piaggio, but then there’s the third, “OSM,” which stands for Omega Seiki Mobility. This small Delhi-based company is playing a big role in shaping the future of electric vehicles, especially in cargo carriers, in India and beyond.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder of Ola, a former taxi aggregator and now also an electric scooter company. If you follow electric vehicles and the startup ecosystem, you may also have heard of Tarun Mehta, the founder of Ather Energy, a manufacturer of electric scooters. But you are unlikely to have heard of Uday Narang, the chairman of Anglian Omega Group and OSM. It may be because the former student of St. Columba, New Delhi is 53 years old.

Not quite the age to be a start-up entrepreneur who dreams of changing the world.

But don’t get me wrong, Narang is not something seth-ji sitting in an air-conditioned office, and unlike far too many other e-mobility ‘start-ups’, it does not bring in container loads from China and assemble them in India to take advantage of subsidies and pocket them. A former Wall Street investment banker, Narang returned to run his family’s midsize steel company, but saw there was an opportunity to do something about electric mobility. . Sure, the money was nice, he admits, “but I wanted to build capacity in India and make products here.”

Narang became aware of avoiding the Chinese trap. “We already have a huge trade deficit with China thanks to massive imports of electronics, we can’t allow our mobility industry to be beholden to China as well,” he told me in his office in the Jasola business district in Delhi. It has partnered with Korean electric vehicle maker Jae Sung Tech. It also established manufacturing facilities in Thailand, where it quietly developed its products to capture Indian and global markets.

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End-to-end solutions

While the company has sold some 5,000 vehicles so far, mostly three-wheelers, Narang is betting heavily on the one-ton and three-ton electric four-wheelers.

“With intense air pollution in cities like Delhi, we will have to switch to zero-emission vehicles if we are to leave our children a breathable city. And commercial vehicles will lead the charge, and you are already seeing that with the delivery of the latest mile and taxis. But we’re partnering with delivery service company Porter to buy thousands of our three- and four-wheelers,” he said. His big bet is a three-capacity medium utility vehicle. tons called “M1KA” (his son’s name is Mika).There will also be a one-ton capacity variant of this truck.

“Look at the e-commerce companies serving Delhi-NCR, their main warehouses are located in places like Manesar and Sonipat, these electric trucks can bring goods from main hubs to distribution points in places like Okhla, from where the electric three-wheelers can go the last mile,” he said.

This vehicle is being indigenized for India, and it is already exporting them from its Korean and Thai facilities to other countries.

“We are the first commercial truck electric vehicle manufacturer to be certified in the United Arab Emirates. Eventually, we want to ‘manufacture in India’ for other countries, like Africa,” says Narang. OSM recently launched a three-wheeled electric vehicle which it says can easily be sent to African countries, where the Bajaj auto rickshaw dominates and operates in the Indian outback towns. “They’re not like the electric three-wheelers you see on the streets, they’re not crummy toys,” he insists.

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Entering the EV Big Boys League

Can Narang succeed? Unlike many of his peers, Narang, despite having a product, did not raise any money, which he is very proud of.

“I want to have my products and services in place before I raise money unlike others,” he says, but here he’s running the gauntlet. So far, many of the big established companies in the automotive space have really failed to organize themselves in the e-vehicle space. While Mahindra and Piaggio make electric three-wheelers for freight and passengers, Bajaj didn’t start.

Similarly, Tata Motors, which dominates electric passenger vehicles in India, has been slow on electric utility vehicles, although Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland are currently concerned about electric buses. An industry veteran, who does not wish to be named, said that while Narang’s intentions are good, he will need to fundraise to compete with the big guys.

“Look what’s going to happen in electric two-wheelers when Bajaj and Hero unlock their money and hit the market. Ninety percent of the electric two-wheeler companies you hear about today won’t survive .

Narang thinks he will. Although he recognizes that he might need to raise funds sooner or later, he has invested in other power start-ups. For example, companies like Log9 Materials, a Bengaluru-based nanotech startup that develops systems for fast battery charging. “Investing in such technologies will help OSM in the long run, because I don’t want to become a lost person. »

Narang has the bustle of men and women 20 years younger, always on the move and always trying to close a deal. Whether he will succeed in his mission to build an Indian champion constructor remains to be seen. But it won’t be for lack of effort.

@kushanmitra is an automotive journalist based in New Delhi. Views are personal.

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