Yamaha Motor Partners With Indian Startup River To Fuel Ambitious Electric SUV Two-Wheeler Rollout In India


River, an Indian startup manufacturing electric two-wheelers, has secured $40 million in a funding round led by Japan’s Yamaha Motor. This funding will enable the nearly three-year-old startup to increase R&D spending and expand the market presence of its first electric ‘SUV’ two-wheeler in India.

Key Takeaway

River, in partnership with Yamaha Motor, is poised to make significant strides in the Indian electric two-wheeler market with its innovative ‘SUV’ scooter, Indie, and ambitious expansion plans.

Series B Funding Round and Market Focus

The all-equity Series B round also saw participation from startup’s existing investors, including Futtaim Automotive, Lowercarbon Capital, Toyota Ventures, Trucks VC, and Maniv Mobility. With the latest funding, the startup has cumulatively raised $68 million in four rounds, including the last round of $15 million announced in June.

Since its founding in March 2021, River has focused on developing and producing electric two-wheelers for Indian customers, a burgeoning and rapidly evolving market in a country keen to replace diesel and gas-powered vehicles with EVs. The biggest market opportunity in the South Asian nation — and the one with the most competition — is the two-wheeler market. Nearly 50% of the total EVs sold in the country are two-wheelers with more than 1.7 million on the roads today, according to government data.

Unique Selling Proposition of River’s Electric Two-Wheeler

The startup believes it can stand out and carve out market share with Indie, a $1,700 two-wheeled scooter that is larger than its competitors. Indie, which River describes as the “SUV of scooters,” has a 14-inch wheelbase and storage space large enough to hold two helmets and cargo weighing up to 33 pounds. Electric two-wheelers from the startup’s rivals — including those from SoftBank-led Ola Electric and Tiger Global-backed Ather Energy — have a 12-inch wheel size and storage for a single helmet.

Expansion Plans and Strategic Partnerships

River’s ambitions include increasing sales to 300 scooters a month in March and 3,000 units a month by the end of 2024. The startup plans to establish a distributor network that will eventually handle 90% of its sales. The company also aims to expand its presence to 100 cities by March 2026.

With strategic investments from companies like Yamaha Motor and Dubai’s Al Futtaim Group, River seeks to leverage global distribution networks and enhance its design and technology capabilities. The partnership with Yamaha Motor holds the potential for collaboration on product lines, further strengthening River’s position in the market.

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