Meet the SA start-up hopping on the e-bike trend

15 November 2022

See how one SA start-up is hopping on board the rise in e-bike popularity, developing innovations that transform bikes into electric vehicles.

Photo by KBO Bike

Did you know electric bikes (‘e-bikes’) are now the fastest growing sector of the electric vehicle economy? That’s right, they’re outstripping sales of their four-wheeled counterparts across the globe.

In Australia, e-bike sales have grown by 131 per cent since 2018 — faster than any other segment of the Australian bike market.

The number of electric bikes imported to Australia has also tripled over the past three years, as consumers become more health-conscious and environmentally-focused.

Electric powertrain and battery innovation company TAV Systems is just one of the local businesses hopping on board the rise in e-bike popularity.

Located within the Tonsley Innovation District, and part of the Flinders New Venture Institute, the South Australian start-up is developing innovations that transform bikes into e-bikes.

After receiving start-up funding from the South Australian Government, they’ve recently raised $1 million in seed funding from private investors and have ambitious plans to create a home-grown manufacturing base for e-bikes in the state, Nithesh Pushparaj, the company’s founder said.

“Since COVID, the new trend of health and fitness has really taken off, and people have started walking and cycling more than before.

“But unfortunately, because Australia doesn’t have a bike or e-bike supply chain here, we import more than $1 billion worth of bikes and e-bikes from China and Taiwan every year.

“So we thought, if we can promote the local supply chain, we can reassure the production of a billion dollar industry.

“We know that for every 1,000 bikes we manufacture in Australia, we can provide five local jobs…and we can even achieve cost parity with Asian manufacturers with further investment in automation and innovative manufacturing models,” he said.

Nithesh, a 27-year-old aeronautical engineer who moved to South Australia two years’ ago from Melbourne on a Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) Visa, said basing his company at Tonsley had been a critical factor in its success.

“The state is a believer in innovation, including electric mobility and future technologies like hydrogen.

“Since I started in the Tonsley Innovation District, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with multiple companies who’ve been really helpful to me, giving me insights and advice about building the company, to help me make it possible,” he said.

It’s this support from the community, and lifestyle on offer in SA, that is helping Nithesh realise his dream of building a purpose-driven company.

“I’m living my dream here in Tonsley…I love the community and the lifestyle here.

“The community here has made TAV Systems, and our mission of building a purpose driven company, possible.

“It’s given me a new meaning to my life to be honest.

“It’s like a home away from my family…it’s so close to my heart.”