Bangalore-based start-up Virtual Forest has decided to invest INR 4 crore (approx $500 K) towards developing motor controllers for electric two-wheelers (E2W) and three-wheelers (E3W).
Omer Basith, Founder & CEO, Virtual Forest, explained that the majority of this investment is directed toward procuring equipment required to develop motor controllers.
“We will be expanding our team to 100. Most of the new hirings we are making will be design, testing, and validation engineers,” he said.
Already a supplier of Inverter Air Conditioner controllers, Inverter Washing Machine Controllers and Brushless DC (BLDC) Ceiling Fan Controller to Voltas, IFB, Crompton, Luminous, and others, the start-up’s five founders saw it natural to foray into developing and manufacturing motor controllers for E2Ws and E3Ws. While these would be the first set of controllers it works on for high-speed two-wheelers, the start-up has started supplying the same for low-speed ones.
The start-up’s upcoming motor controllers (3-15 kW range) will use semiconductors supplied by the NXP Team. As claimed by Basith, NXP has chosen Virtual Forest as their only partner in India to work on motor controllers for electric vehicles (EVs). There would be instances in the journey where the engineering teams of both organizations will work together to develop the same.
‘Motor controllers developed by us will be showcased by NXP at next year’s Detroit Motor Show. It’s already a big validation for us,’ Basith explained. He feels that the same motor controllers will be capable enough to be deployed in low-speed electric three-wheelers.
Arrow Electronics, a leading distributor of electronic components, has signed a contract with Virtual Forest to market and distribute these motor controllers for three years exclusively. However, the start-up will also have the freedom to reach out to potential clients to pitch the solutions independently. Basith claimed that his team is in talks with many India-based E2W and E3W OEMs for supplying the motor controllers.
Reporting revenues of $4.5 million last fiscal (approx INR 36 crore), the start-up’s order books forecast a $15 million (approx INR 120 crore) revenue figure for this fiscal.
Basith is targeting to drive 40% of the start-up’s revenues from the EV vertical by 2025/26; hence it will foray into developing and making more components and solutions.
“We will not limit ourselves to motor controllers, and there will be one more announcement around EVs made from us during the next four weeks,” he said.
It is speculated that Virtual Forest will enter the 4W motor controllers domain before the end of November 2022.
Basith noted that they will raise more funding but only from ‘strategic’ partners like Napino.