With 250 million motorbikes, Southeast Asia has the highest motorcycle density globally. Of these, half in Indonesia and a quarter in Vietnam, the third and fourth largest market in the world.
Motorbikes also account for 85% of the region’s population of vehicles and are a significant cause of pollution.
The advent of electric scooters began to change things for the better. However, they make up only 0.1% of the region’s total two-wheel drive population.
Mass production / use of electric scooters is still many years away, as their costs are higher than those with internal combustion engine (ICE) bicycles. In addition, this area lacks infrastructure such as toll booths to support e-vehicles.
Three years ago, Jinsi Lee and his team sniffed the opportunity here and came up with a unique idea. In May 2018, they launched a startup, named Oyika, outside of Singapore to offer the electric subscription package that comes with e-scooters.
“Our mission is to reduce barriers to electronic adoption in developing countries,” Lee said in an interview with e27.
The brains behind Oyika are the people who built Postkid, an online education startup in the early 2000s, that was sold to the company Horizon Education and Technologies listed on the Mainboard. Lee previously worked for the Sunseap Group and was champion with a 10-megawatt solar farm in Cambodia and a 140-megawatt solar farm in India.
As for its electric subscription plan, Oyika works with the existing electronics motorcycle / scooter manufacturers and turns their ICE models into smart bikes by combining them with portable swappable batteries. mobile, swap station network and mobile app.
“Our subscription plan is similar to the telecom plan in Singapore. You get the data plan that comes with the mobile phone – you can’t have a mobile phone without a data plan or data plan without the mobile phone, ”he explained.
Accordingly, drivers with a pay-per-use, weekly prepayment or monthly post-pay plan can exchange their exhausted batteries for a fully charged battery at an Oyika swap station within one minute.
“This process is faster than the conventional way of charging an electronic motorcycle via a home power outlet, which can take up to eight hours to fully charge,” Lee stated.
These batteries are unbranded and work with most electronic motorcycle brands and models in Southeast Asia. The battery is Internet of Things– enabled, so it can be remotely monitored for optimal performance and safety. A stolen electronic motorcycle can be tracked and remotely shut down, making it an effective theft proof.
The system is operated entirely via Oyika’s mobile app, allowing riders to locate a nearby swap station to exchange their exhausted batteries for a fully charged battery.
Lee said that the company is in talks with seven major motorcycle brands in Indonesia to launch subscription services. However, he does not share the name.
Oyika has successfully tested its battery swap service in Cambodia and Indonesia through flexible electrical subscriptions that come with an electronic motorcycle.
In Indonesia, the company has installed 16 swap stations so far and plans to install 1,000 more by the end of this year.
“In Indonesia, we work with Grab riders and gojek lovers. In this market, most of the racers own their own bicycles and they are contracted to run part-time to run these delivery companies. It’s a huge opportunity, ”he noted.
The startup also plans to expand its customer base, including students, office workers, and corporate clients, he said. “In the meantime, we need to complete an order book for 30,000 electrical registrations, including for union members from the Indonesian cooperative, Friends of the Indonesian Police.”
Subscriptions start at $ 72 per month, which Lee says is a cheaper alternative to traditional bank installment plans. Oyika’s innovative business model and electricity subscription plans allow it to be price competitive even in Indonesia, where the price of petroleum is subsidized.
Plus, every ICE motorcycle on the road to be replaced by an electronic motorcycle will save about one ton of CO2e per year, equivalent to planting 16.5 trees over 10 years, according to the Agency. Protect the US Environment, ”he said.
Energy sharing services for rural Indonesia
In Indonesia, the company is also innovating another energy sharing service in rural communities. This is to bring electricity to households that do not have access to the national grid. These households lack basic things – lights, fans, refrigerators, or the ability to charge cell phones.
“Providing electricity isn’t just about making people’s lives more comfortable. It has an economic transformational effect in helping off-grid communities run small businesses that need electricity to operate, such as sewing machines or sugarcane presses, ”explains Lee.
The startup is conducting trials in remote Indonesia, where similar portable batteries supply electricity to off-grid households. Under this plan, receiving electricity at home would simply be to put the batteries in the Oyika home connection system and connect electrical appliances to it.
There are 30 million people without electricity in Southeast Asia, according to the World Bank.
“It’s an interesting proposition to have the same batteries that illuminate homes as well as power vehicles. It took years for batteries to fall to the point where it could power rural communities and improve the lives of millions. And this is just the beginning, ”Lee pointed out.
Other Oyika plans include expanding operations in Vietnam later this year. It also plans to bid for a contract to build and install electric vehicle charging stations in Singapore, which plans to phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2040.
The clean tech company is backed by the co-founders of Sunseap – CEO Frank Phuan and Chairman Lawrence Wu. Phuan invests in his personal competencies, while Lawrence invests through TRIREC, an investment firm focused on renewable energy projects and clean technology.
Oyika is currently in talks to raise $ 100 million, which will be used to launch the battery swap service in Indonesia.
“It is very difficult for a driver to secure a bank loan for an electronic motorcycle. Therefore, the money we raise will be used to provide sponsorship services to the racers. We are talking to some VCs and corporate investors, some of whom work in the oil and gas sector, who are keen to do something in clean spaces or offset carbon, ”he said. conclude.
Image credit: Oyika