Kochi startup’s solar 3-wheeler blazes EV trail | Business

Kochi: As the world appears set to embrace an imminent EV revolution, four youths from Kerala have jumped on the bandwagon, rolling out their own version of the humble three-wheeler. 

Sugrah Mobility Pvt Ltd, an Aluva-based startup which is into sustainable mobility solutions, has been making solar-powered pedal-assisted tricycles which are of use to diverse sectors where last-mile connectivity is a must.

The vehicle with a payload capacity can be used for goods transport, street sales, intra-warehouse movements, garbage collection and advertising. The startup has already sold around 10 vehicles, the latest being delivered to a popular baker who will be using it at his newly opened outlet at Infopark, Kochi.

Sugrah is the second venture of Jacob Thekkekara, a mechanical engineer with a Master’s from IIT-Madras, who had co-founded another sustainable mobility startup earlier. It was Thekkekara’s ambition to start a similar venture in his home state that led to the formation of Sugrah. The startup became a reality as he was joined by his friends Davis Jacob, Azim Hashmi and Abdul Hadi Mutheri, all mechanical engineers. 

The Sugrah trike can be used by for goods transport, street sales, intra-warehouse movements, garbage collection and advertising. Photo: Special Arrangement


Sugrah chose to start with a simple tricycle as the founders believed that their initial product should be something that could generate revenue. They claim the philosophy has worked out with the company reaching the revenue generation stage in a short span since its incorporation in 2021.

The specifications of the Sugrah trike include 3-speed gears, all-wheel drum brakes, parking brakes, and chain tensioners. It also has a height-adjustable roof, ergonomic seating and sturdy chassis and fork.

The company found its initial revenue by renting out the vehicle as an advertisement trike. It was used for the promotion of the Malayalam blockbuster “Romancham”, a corporate retail chain and popular eateries. The company sold its first vehicle in May 2023. The co-founders said there has been a spike in sales in the past few months.

“We have started our journey by making solar-powered pedal-assisted three-wheelers. We feel there are lots of applications in the country and abroad for last-mile connectivity where you need to move 300kg or less for a short distance. A pedal-assisted three-wheeler vehicle is an ideal platform for this. Our vehicles run on pure solar power. We get close to 100-105km a day and the prototype has covered more than 1,000km in one month,” Thekkekara, the CEO, said. 

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The specifications of the Sugrah trike include 3-speed gears, all-wheel drum brakes, parking brakes, and chain tensioners. Photo: Special Arrangement


Sugrah has launched three variants of its product. “The first one is solar powered which is our higher-end model. It comes with an onboard solar panel. It also has a charging facility. Then we have the electric variant which needs to be charged from the grid. It can cover 40-50 km in a single recharge. The third variant is manual pedal-assisted. It comes with a three-speed gear,” Azim Hashmi, lead, product development, said.

Davis Jacob, who handles sales and marketing, said the company has initiated the procedures to get ICAT certification which will enable it to foray into the passenger vehicle sector too. 

The company has a production facility where it makes the entire chassis. It has an assembling facility near Aluva. The bootstrapped company has already received an idea grant from the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and a Nidhi Prayas grant from the central government’s Startup India scheme. It is also looking for investments with a plan to expand its team and diversify its products. Its plans include the production and sales of an advanced quadricycle. 

“We are fully confident about our prospects because we have got a market-fit product,” Thekkekara said. 

Startup Saturday is Onmanorama’s weekend series featuring promising startups from Kerala. Find the previous stories here. 

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