Luna, India’s first eponymous brand that gave urban India wings in the 1970s, is making a comeback in an electric form. Luna joins the other popular two-wheeler manufacturers of the licensing era, Chetak and Lambretta, in making a comeback in modern electric form while retaining some of their historical stylings.
According to Sulajja Firodia Motwani, founder and CEO of Kinetic Green Energy & Power Solutions, the e-Luna will retain its USP as an economical, easy-to-manoeuvre step-thru bike.
She said, “The e-Luna will be an affordable, convenient, and lightweight model. It will be a modern, stylised version of a moped — we have retained the same values which defined the Luna.”
It will handle the rapidly growing e-commerce delivery industry and be utilised for customized deliveries.
Most old brands that have recently made a resurgence, such as Jawa, Yezdi, Vespa, and Chetak, have received a complete makeover with modern technology and aesthetics.
Ambi Parameswaran, the founder of brandbuilding.com, said, “The old brand may not resonate with the new-age buyers unless done so.”
“Auto companies reviving iconic brands is something that has been done all over the world. But in all these successful revivals, the old brand was given a makeover. In that respect, Bajaj Chetak is an interesting approach,” he added.
The e-Luna is one of three e-two-wheeler brands that Kinetic intends to introduce in order to make a strong comeback in a segment that it left after its collaboration with Mahindra & Mahindra, which ended in 2014. The business has been marketing a low-speed e-scooter under the Kinetic Green brand for the past year.
The Kinetic Zing High-Speed Scooter was introduced by the firm. It exclaims to be the best in class, with a range of 125 kilometres. The scooter is accessible through the company’s exclusive 300 dealerships. Later this year, it will launch the Kinetic Flex, aimed at urban adolescents. All three models will be fast.
The e-two-wheeler industry in India has been rapidly expanding due to government subsidies and high fuel prices. In FY22, about 250,000 units were sold. According to Nagesh Basavanhalli, executive vice-chairman of Greaves Cotton, it is planned to reach 700,000 units by the end of fiscal year 23.
To meet the rising demand, Kinetic is putting up a new plant in Supa, near Pune, with a capacity of more than 25,000 two-wheelers each month. Its current Ahmednagar plant can produce up to 7,500 two-wheelers each month.
Motwani said, “Electric is the future. Five years from now, no one will buy an ICE two-wheeler. We have entered the market at a good time.”
Kinetic Green has invested Rs 50 crore in its two-wheeler company, with ambitions to invest more than Rs 400 crore in the next four years.
According to Motwani, having learned the hard way, Kinetic Green will avoid motorcycles and focus on scooters and mopeds; segments it understands well. Kinetic was pushed out of the Indian two-wheeler market in the early 2000s. It will also have a low-asset strategy.
“We hit a rough spot in the 2000s when the market moved to scooters and motorcycles,” added Motwani.
Its joint venture with Honda barred it from bringing motorbikes and scooters.
When the JV had an end, it had to start over. But by then, the market had grown significantly, and the dynamics had shifted. “We became a sub-scale player, and that impacted our financials. In order to re-engineer, we had to re-structure the group,” stated Motwani. The JV with M&M, which was formed to make a return, did not work out and was terminated in 2014.
The electric transportation trend has given the organisation new life, and Motwani intends to capitalise on it.