An Electric Supercar From Sri Lanka!
The Sustainable Education Foundation, Sri Lanka performed the “Story of Vega” with Dr.Beshan Kulapala along with a Q and A session. He is the Director of Vega Technologies and chargeNET Pvt Ltd. Also works as a Research Scientist at CodeGen International, Sri Lanka. Dr. Kulapala is leading to expand electronic and mechatronic product developments of VEGA EVX Supercar and CodeGen.
The Story Of VEGA EVX
Dr. Beshan Kulapala:
Hi everyone. So, thanks for joining. I’m Beshan Kulapala. I’m the director of Vega Innovations. I’m also a research scientist with CodeGen International. Vega is a subsidiary of CodeGen and we’ve been developing automobile technology for about five and a half years now. Since 2000 and early 2015, 2014, we started developing a supercar called Vega, a completely electric supercar, completely designed, engineered and manufactured in Sri Lanka.
Right now, we have a team of about 45, 48 engineers focused on electrical engineering, electronics, mechanical engineering, materials. Also, we have a design team as well who does the actual, you can feel the product development design work as well. So it’s a very diverse kind of team that we have and I think that is one of the critical needs to have a successful team, especially to design an electric car, a supercar (VEGA EVX).
Now a lot of people ask why we started building an electric supercar rather than a three-wheeler or some small electric vehicle and when we started, we really didn’t know that we wanted to build a car. We wanted to do something that was really new to our country, to put our country on the map for building something that we had never done before using various sorts of technologies.
So, when we looked at what we could do we looked at computers, cell phones, you know, things like that, but a car is something that we all connect to. We all use transportation either your car or your bus or train or whatever it is. So, it’s something that we can relate to and around 2014, electric cars were just getting popular, Tesla was just getting into the scene. So, it was the right call made by our CEO Harsha Subasinghe to kind of develop a cutting edge technology here.
Now, why a supercar is that we wanted to build the expertise in building the hardest vehicle first so that we can come down the value chain and build the smaller car, the mass-market vehicle, the three-wheelers or bicycles or whatever it is. And we are in a position that we could do that now because we built a very diverse team, built the expertise within them and I think that’s why we feel we are very confident in looking back and deciding to take on a supercar. So, that’s my little intro here.
VEGA EVX was started from scratch....
I want to emphasize again that when we started, we started with people who just graduated or like were a few months from Sri Lankan universities, both public and private. So we didn’t have large automotive expertise, this is all homegrown stuff. So, I think that’s what we are very proud of because we started really from scratch.
If you look at the kind of the tools that we have and we compare ourselves to other big car manufacturers, the tools that they have, it’s like the moon and the sun. There’s a huge gap in between what we did with what we have, the resource is that this country has for example. So I think my team has done a tremendous amount of work to get to where we are so those are kind of the positives. If I may take some of the questions that are already there, what is the plan for Vega (VEGA EVX), are you going to sell the car as a limited edition model or license the tech?
So, these are very good questions. We are looking at multiple business models especially, if you look at Rimac in Croatia for example, they’ve built one of the fastest supercars, a beautiful car with a lot of technology and now, they are focused on building vehicles. But they are mostly focused on giving technologies to some of the bigger car companies like Porsche and Jaguar, Land Rover, this information is publicly available.
So, we are looking at those business models also but, we want to manufacture this car in Sri Lanka. We are not going to sell this car to some foreign entity and walk away because we want to do this in Sri Lanka. It’s very difficult, but we took on this challenge and built a prototype and if we let it go now and not get it to the next step, then we feel that we are not pushing the boundaries to move this country forward.
So, imagine an automotive industry in Sri Lanka just like when we got into the apparel industry in the 80s, that was a new thing for this country but we were very successful so we want to build the ecosystem now. There are already established companies who are providing fiber-based products or coir-based products like seats and whatnot to big car companies like Mercedes and Porsche and whatnot. So, if we all get together and push this industry forward, I think then, we’ll have a very good chance of making a big dent in what our country can do.