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MAKA Motors CEO on the financial upside of EV motorbikes

Published on July 20, 2023

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Indonesia-based electric vehicle (EV) startup MAKA Motors made headlines recently, announcing a staggering seed funding round of US$37.6 million, one of the largest seed funding rounds on record for a hardware startup in Southeast Asia. 

The deal was co-led by AC Ventures (ACV), a firm renowned for its ambitious impact and ESG-focused dealmaking philosophy. Raditya Wibowo, Co-founder and CEO of MAKA Motors, revealed details of the venture in an interview on ACV’s signature podcast Indonesia Digital Deconstructed, hosted by Leighton Cosseboom and joined by Michael Soerijadji, Founder and Managing Partner of AC Ventures.

Raditya along with his co-founder Arief Fadillah, both alumni of Institut Teknologi Bandung’s industrial engineering program, seek to build a transformative future for the Indonesian transportation landscape. Their previous experience at Gojek’s ride-hailing business, running pilot projects with EVs, sought to demonstrate the potential of these vehicles in solving a key pain point for drivers – the cost of fuel.

After initial stumbles due to the inadequacy of foreign-made EV motorbikes for the Indonesian market, Raditya and Arief decided to design their own electric two-wheeler, uniquely tailored to cater to the needs of the Indonesian riders. Their vision, a culmination of comprehensive research and development, is to provide electric motorcycles offering an optimal mix of driving range, power, usability, and durability, all at a competitive price point relative to gas-powered motorbikes.

Recognizing Indonesia as the third-largest motorbike market in the world, with approximately 127 million two-wheelers on the road today, the duo is keen to address the unique requirements of Indonesian riders.

Unlike in China, where motorbikes have designated lanes, in Indonesia, motorcycles frequently need to overtake cars and trucks on the roads, making power and durability critical features. With many Indonesians relying on their motorcycles for their work and livelihoods, these factors take center stage.

As the Indonesian government rolls out a variety of incentives for the nation’s mass transition to EVs, the team at MAKA Motors is focused on creating a product that can thrive irrespective of market conditions. Their aim is to launch their first mass-produced e-motorbike in 2024, with the first batch of pilot vehicles ready for deployment in July 2023.

But what drives the decision to invest in an electric motorcycle from a consumer perspective? Raditya said that, unfortunately, it’s not really about saving the planet or reducing carbon emissions; the key factor is cost.

“The potential savings of switching to electric are quite meaningful for a user driving an average of 25,000 kilometers per year, particularly full-time ride-hailing drivers who spend a lot on fuel. Over five years, a driver would spend approximately Rp32 million on fuel for an Nmax, or around Rp25 million for a mid-tier Honda,” explained Raditya. “In contrast, driving an EV over the same period would only cost around Rp6 million. Maintenance costs decrease significantly, from Rp10 million for a regular bike to just Rp3.3 million for an EV. Over five years, a user could save up to Rp32 million. You don’t need to buy lubricants, and you’re primarily replacing brake pads and tires. So, effectively, the bike pays for itself after five years.”

He added, “In Indonesia, we also have a very liquid secondhand motorbike market, so if you turn around and sell your EV after a few years, you can save even more. The challenge for us at MAKA Motors is ensuring durability because that’s what people expect from their bikes. That’s why our rigorous R&D and careful sourcing of the best components from our suppliers is critical. We’re ensuring the life cycle of the battery, a vital aspect of the EV experience, is optimally calibrated to meet our users’ needs.”

By integrating advanced technology with the specific needs of Indonesian riders, MAKA Motors is positioning itself as a game-changer in the Indonesian EV market. With its commitment to providing cost-effective, powerful, and durable electric motorcycles, the company is poised to redefine the future of mobility in the archipelago.

See also: AC Ventures and AEML release top report on Indonesia’s electric vehicle outlook